A Short History of Fortnite

Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last few years, you’ve probably heard the name Fortnite bandied about quite a lot. That said, few know much about the online game, and even fewer its history. Available in three different game modes, Fortnite Save the World, Fortnite Battle Royale, and Fortnite Creative, it has become the most popular game in the world, with the last-person-standing version Battle Royale now boasting an estimated 250 million registered players worldwide. But where did it come from? And how did it become such a phenomenon?

Fornite’s Origins

Following the release of Gears of War 3, the final instalment in the original Gears trilogy, Cliff Bleszinski of Epic Games announced Fortnite at the 2011 Spike Video Game Awards. Little was revealed about the game, except that it would be unlike the typical shooters Epic Games was known for and would instead encompass "a world where you explore, you scavenge, you build and ultimately you survive."

Fortnite Development

For the first couple of years after the announcement, little was heard again about Fortnite. It turns out that when Fortnite was first unveiled in 2011, it really wasn’t much more than an idea, and so the hard work of actually developing the game had to begin. Between 2012 and 2014, Epic Games got to work on creating Fortnite, and in May 2014 Fortnite Safe the World got its big reveal as a Game Informer cover story. The story was the first to offer any tangible information about Fortnite, including the decision that it would have a free-to-play structure and that closed alpha testing would begin later in the year.

Fortnite is Launched

For a further two years, there wasn’t much news on Fortnite’s progress. In the background, testing continued, moving from the alpha to beta stage, and it wasn’t until mid-2017 that the online game was formally launched on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Mac. The early Founders Pack for Save the World was paid-for-access only, with assurances that it would enter the free-to-play model by 2018.

In September 2017 Fortnite Battle Royale was released. It began life as a sperate player mode within Save the World, but soon became a game in its own right, entirely free to play on PC, Mac, Xbox One, and PS4 platforms. Within 24 hours it already had a million players.

Fortnite Becomes a Phenomenon

Epic Games continued to improve upon its creation, providing regular updates for Fortnite Battle Royale, including the Map Update 2.2.0 and the Tilted Towers update. These updates, along with the game’s free-play status, helped make it the most popular game on the planet, and by early 2018 Epic Games announced that Fortnite now had more than 40 million registered players worldwide.

By March 2018, Fortnite had become the most viewed game on the live game streaming platform Twitch. When singer Drake took part in a live session with top Fortnite streamer Ninja, it became the most-watched stream in the history of Twitch. In May 2018, Thanos, of Infinity War fame, made an appearance in Fortnite Battle Royale. Fortnite’s place as a cultural phenomenon was secured, with even Hasbro releasing a Monopoly Fornite edition of its most famous board game. Websites that offer the chance to play at a Monopoly casino may also begin implementing Fortnite characters into the game in order to entice players, such is Fortnites appeal.

In June of the same year Fortnite was finally available on Switch, featuring crossplay with Xbox, PC, Mac, and also mobile. And by the July it had made more than $1 billion from in-game purchases. Later that year Fortnite was released onto Android, having already been made available on iOS in the April.

The Future of Fortnite

The appeal of Fortnite shows no signs of waning, but Epic Games isn’t resting on its laurels. In an attempt to keep players interested Epic continues to add new updates and features, including experimental modes such as the fort-building Playground Mode and the action-packed Solid Gold Mode. Not to mention the game’s ever evolving and complex storylines that continue to captivate players. The future of Fortnite is as yet unknown, but it’s that unpredictability of innovation that made Fortnite such a hit in the first place.







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Last Updated: Jan 23, 2020