Fortnite has a big year ahead if it wants to remain on the throne.
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To say that Fortnite has been a success over the past year wouldn’t really do it justice. Rising from the (almost) ashes of a PVE experience that left many cold and looked in trouble, Fortnite: Battle Royale made some small waves before eventually exploding into life once Twitch streamers started getting in on the act, either because they saw its potential or because they were left jaded by the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds experience.
It’s been almost utterly unavoidable in recent times, its popularity reminiscent of Minecraft at its peak or even the first time many of us started collecting cards of weird animals to fight each other. While Epic Games don’t often disclose player counts, it’s obvious that it’s still very much on the Battle Royale throne and doesn’t look like being troubled by its competition, owing to the fact that it’s free and is constantly being updated.
However, there is a belief amongst some that it is a “dying” game, which honestly is a descriptor that could apply to any game that’s been popular for the longest time — it’s simply impossible for a game to continue peaking; there will inevitably be a drop-off. Is there much truth to it, though? Could Fortnite be on a steady decline that will eventually knock it off its perch? While Fortnite will almost certainly always be played widely by virtue of being a free, fairly well-polished shooter with a unique twist, 2019 could be a less stellar year for the behemoth.
Epic Games are no doubt aware of the fact that players could drop off when the next big thing comes along or if they make the wrong move that disillusions the playerbase, so here’s how Fortnite in 2019 should be approached by those involved.
Keep Up With The Updates…
Fortnite feels like a different game every week or two as Epic simply won’t allow it to get too stale by adding new weapons and items. The meta changes almost each and every single time something new is introduced, so what works for you one week may not work the next. This makes Fortnite a game players constantly need to adapt to — I remember not playing it for three weeks and coming back to absolute misery.
These updates make it impossible for you to get too comfortable with the game, but they also change the experience significantly. A recent update, for instance, removed Burst Rifles and made first chests that much more exciting when you know there’s less of a chance of having an unreliable weapon to start off with. However, the update also had to make nerfs that shouldn’t have been necessary to begin with.
…But Rein In The Nonsense
I don’t envy Epic at all as they’ve created a precedent that they have no way of going back on without causing controversy. One thing that lured people away from PUBG was the fact that Fortnite was constantly being updated, but now it feels like Epic’s cross to bear with them adding stuff that is either downright silly or horrifically imbalanced. Planes have been a nightmare for many in Season 7 and have been nerfed a couple of times as well as the Boom Boxes, which are not only stupid but also negate the game’s main selling point: building.
The answer to the new item issues seems obvious: have an LTM that acts as a test for them so Epic can more accurately see how well they’re balanced and so that they don’t impact players’ stats. Overwatch does something similar with its PTR and it would make sense for Epic to adopt something similar. They could have avoided the backlash from the (hilariously) overpowered Infinity Blade that ruined a competitive tournament if they’d just tested it out a little more.
Make the Semi-Pro Tournaments A Permanent Fixture
Epic were onto a good thing with the Fortnite Pop-Up Cups, so it’s a bit odd that they stopped adding them to the game. These basically worked as the game’s competitive scene, allowing more seriously minded players to go up against each other to earn points based on kills and placement. They were very popular and bridged a decent gap between casual and the pro scene while thankfully being a bit more exciting than the latter to watch.
Fortnite would work as an eSport staple despite its RNG nature, so a permanent Pop-Up Cup (or maybe something similar) would help players more effectively prepare for tournaments and also satiate the bloodlust of those who live and breathe the game while also giving them a challenge. The rest of us, meanwhile, could hide out in bushes with the rest of the cowards in casual play.
More Servers, More Players
Fortnite has an impressive amount of servers, but arguably an amount that’s not as reflective of its playercount as it should be. Epic have a lot of markets that they are leaving untapped, which has led to campaigns for them to adopt more region-specific servers. There has been surge of players from the Middle East, but the lack of servers in the region makes the game almost unplayable due to some insane ping. Seeing the demand, Epic announced that they were working on it.
We work with multiple cloud providers to supply the infrastructure for Fortnite servers globally. None of these providers yet have capacity available in the Middle East region, but we expect to have a solution in the next few months. We'll keep you updated as we learn more!
However, this should just be the start. A central US server is the clear next choice for many, but Fortnite’s popularity in South Africa has also led to calls for Epic to add a server there, though this may depend on incoming data servers from Amazon. If Fortnite is going to continue to evolve and grow, Epic simply have to hit as many markets as effectively as they can.