Trend Alert: Fortnite

Trend Alert introduces you to the latest brands, products and services that are trending with 16-24s.

If you’ve spoken to any teenage boys recently, you’ll know there’s one big obsession that has taken over their lives: Fortnite. What you might be surprised to discover is that the video game was only released 12 months ago. In that time it has been played by over 125 million people (that’s twice the UK population!) and earned its creators Epic Games hundreds of millions of dollars. It was recently described by New York Magazine as “the most important video game on the planet.”

Fortnite started out with one game mode, a cooperative shooter-survival mode called Save the World. However, it was when they launched a second mode, Battle Royale, that the game really took off. The concept is believed to have been inspired by PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (aka PUBG), as both were based on the plot of the Japanese film Battle Royale, where the characters are left on an island and told to fight for their lives, as only one of them will survive. This makes for an excitingly competitive player experience, and gives the same narrative and visual impact of watching a TV show… yet in this case, you control the ending.

However, it’s not just the concept of Fortnite: Battle Royale that has made it a phenomenon - it’s the format too. The game is not only available on PCs and game consoles but also as a mobile app, with all the same functionality. This fuels its addictive power, as players can continue their game on the move, in their lunch break and while watching TV. It’s also free to play, which makes it more accessible to Gen Z than its paid competitors, and attracts curious new users who may not normally be interested in video games but want to be part of the trend.

Fortnite’s place in the lives of its young users is more comparable to Snapchat or Instagram than the traditional video game, and it uses many of the same tricks to keep players coming back for more. Many teenagers are spending half or more of their waking hours immersed in Fortnite. It has also penetrated popular culture, as the game is regularly featured in the social media posts of its celebrity fans, and its characters’ cute celebratory dance moves have popped up everywhere from BuzzFeed to the World Cup.

A year on from its initial early access release, it’s fair to say that Fortnite is the biggest video game in the world right now, but there’s no doubt that there will be new rivals hoping to imitate its success as 2018 goes on. Whether any of them can challenge Fortnite is still to be seen, but its impact on the gaming industry will be evident for years to come.

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