Essays · TV

What Is ‘Fortnite’ and Why Is It Everywhere?

The video game sensation Fortnite is taking over the television landscape.
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By  · Published on October 5th, 2018

There was not one, but two instances where the hit video game Fortnite was featured on national television in the past week. What is Fortnite and why is it everywhere? It isn’t something that has just happened overnight but is an actual sensation in the video game industry. It is one of the most played and highest earning titles in the marketplace. Children and adults are addicted to the frenetic gameplay and colorful personalities. Fortnite is everywhere now, and it isn’t going away soon.

Fortnite is a video game developed by Epic Games and released in late 2017. Players create their own characters to partake in giant free-for-all scenarios. The twist on the shooter genre comes from destructible environments where players can earn resources. These resources can be turned in for better gear and better defense. Fortnite became popular once it implemented a free-to-play Battle Royale mode, known as Fornite Battle Royale. In this mode, upwards of 100 combatants, fly down to a map and challenge each other to see who can be the last man or woman standing. The ease-of-access (free) and customization for characters have made the game a sensation around the world. The game is appearing in the news: schools banning students from playing or parents hiring coaches to help their kids rank better.

How does the developer make money on a free game? By selling outfits and unique skills for the characters. While the game might be free, there are other ways that Epic Games is making money on Fortnite. And by making money, I mean one of the most profitable games.

Another reason that Fortnite is successful is that it is available. It is on every current console including PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. Not to mention it is also available on many cell phones including iOS and Android operating systems and you have a game anyone can access at any time.

The popularity of Fortnite cannot be underestimated. Guides and information regarding the shooter continue to draw interest far beyond any other game. That might be the other reason that Fortnite was mentioned multiple times on network television in the last week.

A sequence on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon saw the biggest boy band in the world, BTS, attempt dances in Fortnite. Remember how I mentioned customization? Fortnite allows characters to each special abilities known as emoting that give the characters the ability to dance. There is no real point to the dance, it is just entertaining to watch the characters behave in such a manner. BTS could replicate many of the moves on display including The Floss, which reached its plateau in June 2018 and has been tapering off since then. Fallon attempted some of the dances and he… tried his best. Epic Games rips off these dances from other places and then puts them into Fortnite, often not crediting where these dances have originated. In a timely coincidence, Fortnite released a new emote called ‘Smooth Moves’ that combines some of the BTS dance routines.

That appearance of Fortnite was followed by a skit on the season 44 debut of Saturday Night Live. Guest Adam Driver played William MacTavish, a father who is concerned about his ability to play the game. It is imperative he becomes better than his son’s stepfather. He joins two other players in a Battle Royale match and even getting the controls correct presents a challenge. His ineptitude is the entire gag as MacTavish moves his character against a wall, fails to open chests, and continuously does an emote while his team is under attack. There isn’t much more to this skit than an old man plays video games poorly, but it is another instance that Fortnite has infiltrated the mainstream.

Fortnite isn’t a flash in the pan. The game has real staying power. It has been in the news and garnering headlines since its release almost one year ago. Fortnite continues to be updated as well as offering new content and emotes through what Epic Games describes as seasons. Each season offers new content and they have just released the sixth iteration of this content. Fortnite has an incredible reach due to its affordability (free), availability (all consoles and mobile devices), and accessibility (easy to pick up, except if you are MacTavish). Fortnite is here to stay and will show up in movies and television shows sooner than later.

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News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.