Epic Games mega hit Fortnite has taken the world by storm. In the first half of 2018 alone, it grew from 45 million to 125 million. But does a massive hit necessarily mean it will become the esport of the future?
Fortnite is a Battle Royale game. This means that at its core it is a king of the hill format, where last player standing is the winner of the map. The way it works is that at the start of the game all players are scattered without much equipment around the map. Then the map shrinks as the game progresses forcing the players together and necessitates conflict. It’s a great type of game, it creates action and a lot of fun. The three Battle Royale games that stand out are PubG, H1Z1 and Fortnite. They are all newcomers on the market which took off in 2017 and exploded 2018.
What is a good tournament format?
The most important aspect of making a computer game take the leap into becoming an esport is how well the game plays as a tournament. For Battle Royale games there has been a lot of testing as to what constitutes a good tournament format. The nature of Battle Royale games is such that there is always an element of survival, as it literally is a game about the last man standing. However, from a spectator point of view we want to watch a lot of kills. Thus the question is how the tournament format reflects this. Furthermore, with 40-man maps it is easy to let 20 players through to the next round. These things makes for passive play in the earlier rounds, and we know from other games that aggressive play style is more fun to watch. The formula for kills versus survival is still an area of experimentation in the genre. I expect to see a lot of different formats over the next year. I hope a good format that is great for the viewers will emerge.
Is $100 million enough to create an esport?
Apart from tournament format, you also must have incentive for players to take the game seriously. Epic Games have decided to go at it in an epic manner: they have announced they will put $100 million into Fortnite prize pools to make it into the esport of the future.
It is not clear exactly how this money will be distributed yet. What is clear is that it certainly is enough incentive to make esports organizations, teams, and players very excited. For us fans, it is just a matter whether they get the format right so that it will be exciting to watch.