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How Fortnite Became the World’s Most Popular game

With Fortnite Battle Royale on the crest of an enormous wave of popularity, it’s almost impossible to think that just a few years ago Fortnite was seen as an inevitable disappointment for developer Epic Games. Revealed in 2011, Fortnite was meant to be a showcase of Epic Games’ game development tool, Unreal Engine 4, and was scheduled to be released in 2013 as the first game for UE4.

However, development on Fortnite at Epic Games took a turn for the worse as the project took a backseat, with Epic Games confirming the game wouldn’t hit the 2013 release target.

Dark Days of Development

With various closed alpha and beta periods throughout 2014 and 2015, it was clear that Fortnite wouldn’t be releasing anytime soon. Epic Games was busy sorting out the backend elements of the game for it to work in the games-as-a-service model, and with the Unreal Engine 4 released in 2014, the team had additional work supporting other games being developed and released on their engine.

Fortnite took an even further backseat in 2015 when Epic Games announced another free-to-play game in development called Paragon. While Paragon began its open beta in early 2017, in about a year’s time Epic Games announced they would be stopping development and shutting down the Paragon servers.

Redirecting the Fortnite Bus Towards Success

While Paragon had sucked the development resources away from Fortnite, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney promised to fans that Fortnite would be the next big release the team would focus on. The team were working hard to reach the July 25th, 2017 release date, but ultimately decided to release the game into paid early access to allow themselves more development leeway while still having a product available for fans who had been waiting more than five years now.

However, it was in early 2017 that Epic Games noted the success of the battle royale game Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, and began at looking at how they could create a similar game mode for Fortnite. In September of 2017, Fortnite started to turn things around with the release of their free-to-play Battle Royale game mode.

Fortnite Battle Royale’s Rise to Number One

A spin-off from the original game, the battle royale mode features matches in which 100 players are dropped onto an island with the last player standing the winner. To say that Epic Games struck gold would be an understatement, with over 10 million players on the battle royale mode just after two weeks after its release.

Epic Games kept their head down however and worked hard to release mobile versions of the battle royale mode in April 2018. In their first month, Epic Games took in over 50 million USD in microtransactions from the mobile version of the game alone.

What Lies Next for the World’s Most Popular Game

While Epic Games has been continuously expanding and updating Fortnite, it has run into a snag. It recently came out that Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds is suing Fortnite for the theft of intellectual property, more specifically copying of the game’s user interface and several in-game items. While this lawsuit is unlikely to go the way of Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Epic Games has undoubtedly been preparing for what will be a contentious trial.

After taking the battle royale crown from Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Fortnite now stands as the world’s most popular game, and many game studios are looking to replicate Epic Games’ success. From a development disappointment to the world’s most talked about game, Fortnite has had a meteoric rise that seems unlikely to slow down.

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