It’s easy to believe that Fortnite became the phenomenon that it is today because of its free-to-play business model. But I think that’s an oversimplification of what happened. When I first heard that Fortnite was adding a battle royale mode I, like a lot of critics, ignored it. I just assumed that this was the first of many PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds clones coming down the pipeline. And in some ways I still think that’s true. Then, I actually played it.
I bought PUBG about a month after it released. I remember reading the glowing reviews and getting caught up in the excitement of it all. This was a game with little to no advertisement, coming out from a developer unknown to anyone outside of the modding scene and it almost instantly climbed to the top of the Steam charts. I had to play it. I was instantly hooked. It was nothing like I expected. It felt more like a horror game than a traditional shooter. The constant suspense, hiding in houses and being dead silent as I tried to distinguish if the engine I just heard was from a car or a plane. I loved every agonizing second of it.
When Fortnite announced their battle royale mode, like I said before, I ignored it. This was a game that, up to this point in time was a co-op tower defense game and not even a very good one at that! Granted I had never played it but I kept up with reviews so that’s just as good. Eventually, though, Fortnite did something that PUBG never could: it became part of the public consciousness.
Due in large part to the streaming community, people who did not even play video games were learning about Fortnite. In order to have any small sliver of success in PUBG you have to devote a lot of time and effort into learning pretty much everything about the game. Which machine gun is higher on the machine gun tier? Which sub-machine gun is higher on the sub-machine gun tier? Are sniper rifles worth holding onto in the late game when the circle is so small there’s not much need to snipe? Not even to mention memorizing which attachments go on what guns and what ammo everything takes. The point is there is a lot to remember.
This can either be very good for streaming or very bad. If you have put in the time and the work, then you can have a very impressive and entertaining stream. However, nobody is going to want to watch you jump in and get killed over and over again trying to learn the game. Fortnite solved this problem by making the battle royale game fun. Now I know how that sounds and I’m not saying that PUBG is not fun. It’s just fun in a different way. If PUBG is a thought provoking, psychological thriller, then Fortnite is a silly, buddy cop, comedy.
Streamers hopped on Fortnite immediately. It didn’t matter if you were good or bad, it was just fun to watch. It has a cartoonish art style, ridiculous weapons and over the top environments that were designed to make the game go viral and it worked. Memes started blowing up people ignoring their significant others to play Fortnite. It’s free to play so if you want to get someone to play it, they have no excuse. PUBG launched at $59.99USD and is now currently $29.99USD on Steam.
Despite all of this, I was still being stubborn and refusing to try Fortnite. Until one day, when a girl I work with, a high school student who does not play video games, asked me about Fortnite. She knew that I played video games and just wanted to understand this new phenomenon that had been sweeping through her school and her life outside of school as well. I told her what I knew and then, after work, went home and downloaded Fortnite.
I played about four matches in singles and hated it. It was too simple. Granted, I didn’t win any of the matches but it just felt like it was below my standard. The next day I went back. I continued to play on my own. I still didn’t enjoy it. Yet, I had this sick, masochistic urge to return. At the time I didn’t know why but I kept going back. I would just play matches where I would practice building until I got the hang of that. Then I would challenge myself to play matches without building a single thing. I played alone in squad mode to try and hone my skills. Then, I realized what the problem was. I really, really liked Fortnite.
There’s this constant urge that I have, and I think we all have it to some extent, that makes me want to disagree wtih the popular opinion. It’s what makes us want to root for the underdog. Although, in this case there really is no underdog. Just two massive money making games that I was too stubborn to admit were both pretty great. I still regularly go back and play PUBG. My problem was trying to compare two things that actually aren’t all that similar. I’m more than happy to go back and forth between these two amazing games.
What do you think of Fortnite and PUGB? Share your thoughts with us here at Culture of Gaming down below!