By Brian Brecker
Elm Staff Writer
“Fortnite: A Battle Royale,” which has been lauded with critical praise, is a new hugely successful online third person shooter utilizing colorful graphics and fun recognizable characters.
With “Overwatch” being the most popular in this new subgenre of games, many have burst through to the mainstream with critical success such as “Heroes of the Storm,” and the less successful “Battleborn.” This shift was so sudden that older industry veterans like “Call of Duty” and “Battlefield” struggled to adapt to the change in the videogame landscape.
In 2010, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” sold 5.6 million units, and “Battlefield: Bad Company 2” sold over 9 million units. Compared to “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare,” whose trailer on YouTube garnered over three million dislikes compared to 585,000 likes, and sold a disappointing amount (for the big budget videogame industry), the shift is clear. While they have rebranded with “Call of Duty: WWII,” a better selling game going back to their roots, it is clear that something had fundamentally changed: no longer was the ultra-realistic, gritty wargame the industry standard for success and profit. New games such as “Overwatch” and “Heroes of the Storm” were refreshing in one big way: they had colorful characters and a clear focus on player enjoyment.
However, the templates for these new games are not as new as one may believe. They draw obvious influence from the still-played “Team Fortress 2,” released in 2007, which had unique and memorable roles to choose from when fighting online. Unique avatars with distinct personalities also encompass much of the ever-growing MOBA games, (Massive Online Battle Arena) such as “Dota 2” and “League of Legends.” Professional play of these MOBA games has increased to the point of sponsorship deals and the growing fandom of eSports. Part of the success of these games in eSports is their usage of recognizable playable characters with balanced options. It should be no surprise that competitive “Overwatch” and “Heroes of the Storm” teams abound. I would not be shocked to learn if “Fortnite” is introduced to the competitive eSports scene with the approval of Epic Games in the near future. As companies have come to learn, having a thriving competitive eSports angle to one’s game can greatly increase its longevity.
Though “Counterstrike: Global Offensive” came out in 2012, its rising popularity in eSports tournaments has elevated its position as a free-to-play alternative to the “Call of Duty-”esque twitch shooter. The free-to-play model has brought real competition in the online gaming sphere through mere convenience. Indie games have changed the market completely with more affordable pricing. It’s very smart that Fortnite is launching in some bundles at $39.99 instead of the industry standard of industry standard quo of $60. The simple fact is most people don’t have that kind of money to enjoy more than two or three games in a year. What makes it even more promising is the fact that it’s being done by “triple A” game publisher Epic Games, maker of the hugely successful “Gears of War” and “Infinity Blade” series.
The videogame market is shifting and changing more now than in any period of the past that I can remember. The old industry leaders have been rejected by the status quo to make room for wackier games with bolder color palettes and more memorable character designs. The success of independent games have forced the mainstream game industry to break convention for ease and convenience of the customer. “Fortnite” is a leader of this change, another brick building the new order and standard for mainstream videogame entertainment. Games like this are changing the game industry before our eyes and it we may be all the better for it.