Key Lessons Game Developers Should Learn From Fortnite’s Success

5th February, 2019 by

When 2019 eventually draws to an end, there will likely be numerous articles written about the decade when computer games (including the blockbuster game Fortnite) were fully embraced by mainstream culture. A series of unrelated technological developments have helped to create the perfect environment for games to flourish – smartphones and app stores, 4G and fiber broadband, streaming services and on-demand entertainment.

Today, we live in a world of Minecraft tutors, Twitch, esports scholarships, and professional gamers. This industry offers rich rewards for companies able to develop dynamic and engaging games. Most people in western nations can now enjoy multimedia content on the smartphones in their pockets, or the tablets, consoles, and computers in their homes. The breakthrough phenomenon of Pokémon Go earlier in the decade provided the first example of how augmented reality could steer this sector in new, ever more interactive directions.

Pokémon Go remains hugely popular, but the current zeitgeist game is Fortnite. Over 200 million players have signed up to this survival-based title, which pits up to 100 online players into last-person-standing battles within cartoonish environments. However, its success isn’t a coincidence. It actually provides a case study in successful online game design, with a number of salutary lessons that other developers and programmers should be mindful of…

Attract audiences with freemium versions

Fortnite is free to download, install and play – up to a point. By that point, gamers are usually hooked. Its freemium business model revolves around in-game purchases, enabling players to buy upgrades, weapons, costumes, and much more. Clever economies of scale ensure bigger purchases deliver proportionally more benefits, encouraging users to pay a little extra. Epic Games is believed to have earned over a billion dollars from in-game purchases alone.

Invest in powerful global servers

With millions of players online at any given moment, Fortnite data is distributed and processed huge volumes around the clock. This relies on specialist hosting companies like 100TB. We are ideally placed to provide effectively limitless server space and bandwidth for online streaming services and gaming platforms. We have developed an international network of strategically positioned data centers, ensuring that users are never too far from their nearest server. Attempting to access a server on a different continent will inevitably increase latency – the death of any online gaming experience.

Don’t reinvent the wheel in terms of game type

Fortnite is a first-person shooter game. This format has been popular since the 1980s. However, it enjoyed a renaissance earlier this decade thanks to gaming franchises including Call of Duty and Battlefield. Online gameplay has also become firmly established as a popular phenomenon in recent years. The majority of app-based games run entirely online rather through on a device’s internal storage. Being able to compete against players of different abilities from around the world hugely increases any game’s longevity, compared to the limited engagement and finite difficulty levels offered by AI opponents.

Appeal to all ages

In the 20th century, computer games were widely viewed as the province of insular teenage boys. Yet, all ages and demographics enjoy Fortnite. Despite the ludicrous weaponry on display, violence remains cartoonish rather than shocking. Characters fall down without shedding blood or losing body parts. It’s hard to be outraged by a game where avatars in bunny suits dance on the spot while the players controlling them chat to each other.

Offer cross-platform compatibility

One of the reasons Fortnite became such a global phenomenon is because it can be played on numerous devices. It runs on the fourth-generation Unreal Engine – a suite of integrated game development tools compatible with most hardware formats. Android and iOS versions launched last March, augmenting the existing Windows, Mac, and console versions.

Leave them wanting more

Short bursts of gameplay are always more enjoyable than epic quests of the kind familiar to MMORPG aficionados. From early 8-bit platform games to more recent smartphone favorites, developers have always understood the importance of leaving people craving one more go. As a result, individual Fortnite games rarely last longer than 20 minutes. Younger players are especially likely to become hooked, considering the title’s cartoonish colors, wish fulfillment elements, and collaborative-or-competitive gameplay.

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