What's behind Fortnite's popularity?

 Getty/Vaughn Ridley/Epic Games

Getty/Vaughn Ridley/Epic Games

It’s an intriguing concept. A match consists of 100 players in one map, with the goal being the last person or team standing to survive. The game is called Fortnite. But why are the UMBC Retrievers basketball team, fresh off of pulling off the greatest upset in NCAA tournament history beating a one seed, shouting it out after becoming the first 16 seed to ever win a game in March Madness. Why is Drake, Travis $cott and Juju Smith-Schuster breaking streaming records on Twitch, and why does the streamer they played with have a net worth of $3.5 Million(!)?

It can all be explained by the awareness it has in its users and its own self awareness as well.

I started playing two months ago. My roommates egged me on, but when they told me it was free, I figured I would try it out. Not being a hardcore gamer by any means, I had no headset at the ready, but it they made sure to let me know that I’d need one since communication would be key. We filled our squad up to 4 people (the maximum for each team) and readied up.

It all starts in an airborne bus flying across the massive map and is typically when your team decides where to drop. Quite literally you drop in by skydiving, with nothing but a pick axe, as the race to the loot begins. Most everything can be hit with your pick axe to collect materials to build with, from defensive forts to offensive barriers. Lots of the items you can grab are laying around but there are also a few ‘chests’ with a chance at more rare items, ranging from materials, to health kits, and various guns & explosives

But Fortnite isn’t just a firefight, it’s much more about survival. The looming threat being the ‘storm’. As the game progresses, the map shrinks into progressively shrinking safe zones, as the health depleting storm keeps you moving towards the action. And as more and more people get eliminated, the amount of powerful weapons available increases through supply drops. All of this is to say that there are multiple factors that need to be accounted for, and why having a good team is so important.

. One reason why the game is so popular though, is the even playing field. In games like COD and NBA 2K, there's an advantage for those who put in the hours or even the cash. But in Fortnite, your chance of winning really just depends on how good you can build, shoot, and strategize around the map. The only things you can purchase is various outfits and celebrations, none of which give you an advantage. But the aspect of magical realism is just as key to its fame.

 Epic Games

Epic Games

While there is great detail in the weapons and the world itself, the physics aren’t as realistic, and that can be pretty entertaining when playing, or watching other people play. One twitch streamer called Ninja has become so good at the game, that he pulls in tens of thousands of viewers per stream, and even tens of thousands of dollars in donations. There’s a strangely pleasurable feeling in seeing someone “ball out” in Fortnite. It’s comparable to an amateur and a master painter making art with the same materials.

Fortnite is constantly changing though. Different items and weapons come and go throughout its various updates, but if something new, like a damage trap, becomes popular, it’ll be there for the long run. They’ll even create new towns that are added to the map, with more opportunities for loot and fortifying. The developers are constantly trying new things and trying to conform to the users.

Most recently, Fortnite has released the game for IOS (iPhone & iPad) in its entirety. I tried the IOS version first hand, and other than the graphics & framerate, it really is the same game. What’s more impressive, they’ve implemented cross platform playability. That means that a 4 person squad could have someone playing on a PS4, Xbox, PC, and iPhone, playing in the same game. This may just be the best development, and last week it made Ninja’s stream with Drake possible in the first place. It gives the user a sense of freedom from platform conformity, and possibilities for a more social gaming experience.

There’s many reasons to like Fortnite but the opportunities you have to play it are at the top of the list. We’ve also seen these days the youth will play and/or watch, what they want, when they want, but they also want to be heard. And yes it sounds cheesy, but that’s exactly what this game has looked to accomplish. As the fan base continues to grow and their crowd gets larger to source from, this game will be here for the long run.