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Will Epic’s fight with Apple spell the end for Fortnite?

(Image Credit: @appleinsider)
(Image Credit: @appleinsider)
Izaak
ANALYST
Modified 03 Sep 2020, 22:34 IST
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Currently, Fortnite is quite literally a force to be reckoned with. It has a degree of cultural penetration that other works of media could only ever dream of, and rarely has any single game been as popular around the world as Fortnite. But all good things must eventually come to an end, so we just have to ask when that end will come, and why might it be sooner rather than later.

Fortnite becomes unavoidable

When Fortnite Battle Royale released in late 2017 I don’t think anyone expected that it would become the single most profitable game in the world for the next two years. Fortnite became a vehicle for Epic, and they used the game to experiment with player engagement, monetization, pop culture tie-ins, and even began using the game like a bludgeon for their other goals.

Fortnite wasn’t what put Epic on the map, but it did catapult them to the top, and they’ve been there for quite a while. But recent events have begun to chip away at that lead, as both new competitors have arisen to contest for the same audience as Fortnite, and Epic has perhaps overreached in its goals for the game.

Losing popularity is to be expected though, and when you’re at the top the only direction left to go is down, so while it’s easy to say that Fortnite will eventually lose its popularity it’s much harder to say when and why that will happen. Let’s take a look at recent events and see if Fortnite might be on its way out already.


Fortnite might be losing its dominance

One important thing to note is that falling from the top is probably going to take a while, and it might even look like Fortnite could reclaim its top spot along the way down. Ultimately, we won’t know for sure the exact moment or cause until years after, but we can still make educated guesses along the way.

The first thing to consider is how Fortnite has begun to shift a lot of its focus away from what is called the “core gameplay loop.” The core gameplay loop is the part of the game that gets repeated game-to-game, moment-to-moment. It’s the part that people come back for, and it’s what builds the audience and fanbase up.

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The core gameplay loop in Fortnite is simple, you land, loot, build, and shoot. These four elements are part of every single game of Fortnite, but Epic seems to have diverted their attention towards other things. 

Chief among them are the ways in which Epic attempts to get players to participate in its Party Royale events. While these events might appeal to a lot of players, they don’t incorporate the core gameplay loop, and many players wouldn’t even notice if they stopped.

Other distractions include the ways that Fortnite is being used for crossover events. This latest season worried a lot of players with its superhero themes, and some of the superpowers actually diminish the importance of the core gameplay loop by unbalancing it or side stepping it altogether.


Accessibility crisis

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Another thing which might hurt Fortnite has nothing to do with its gameplay but rather where it can be played. Epic’s habit of using Fortnite as a bludgeon, including attempts to weaponize the Fortnite fanbase, has gotten it into a fight with a few tech giants. Although Apple has been Epic’s main target, Fortnite has also been pulled from the biggest Android store as well.

Fortnite is popular enough that these setbacks might be endurable, but not without cost, and it is entirely possible that Epic overestimated their strength on these matters.

This lack of accessibility has already resulted in waves on some of these markets, and there’s no indication that this fight will end soon.


New competitors cut into the market

Another new thing Fortnite has to worry about is the rise of competitors in its market. Call of Duty in particular has been highly successful since its release. With both a PC and mobile game Battle Royale game, Call of Duty has been competing with Fortnite on every available market, now with the advantage of standing alone on iOS.

Of course, there are much more than just Call of Duty, there’s also PUBG, the Hunt: Showdown, Escape from Tarkov, and so on, each fighting for room in the Battle Royale market. Fortnite in particular also has to worry about its large casual audience moving on to other successful casual games, such as Fall Guys.

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Fortnite underperforms for its non-casual players

The last big hit against Fortnite has been the constant refrain from the Fortnite competitive and professional community talking about the various issues which they face. With the near total lack of communication from Fortnite, no patch notes, poor balancing, non-competitive map design, poor pacing, game ending glitches, and an ongoing cheating epidemic, it seems like the Fortnite competitive community has been left out in the rain.



All of these issues have been piling on top of one another, each one chipping away at some part of the Fortnite fanbase. Although Fortnite would probably be able to handle any one of them for a long time, with all of them together it’s reasonable to imagine that the game might be losing its number one spot in the next year.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however. Failure encourages new developments, and having something to work towards might be good for Fortnite. Until that happens, however, we’ll just have to enjoy the ride.

Published 03 Sep 2020, 22:34 IST
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