Fortnite is an online video game developed by Epic Games and released in 2017. It is available in three distinct game mode versions that otherwise share the same general gameplay and game engine: Fortnite: Save the World, a cooperative shooter-survival game for up to four players to fight off zombie-like creatures and defend objects with fortifications they can build; Fortnite Battle Royale, a free-to-play battle royale game where up to 100 players fight to be the last person standing; and Fortnite Creative, where players are given complete freedom to create worlds and battle arenas. The first two-game modes were released in 2017 as early access titles and Creative was released on December 6, 2018. Save the World is available only for Windows, macOS, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, while Battle Royale and Creative released for those platforms, in addition for Nintendo Switch, iOS and Android devices.
While the first two games have been successful for Epic Games, Fortnite Battle Royale became a resounding success, drawing in more than 125 million players in less than a year and earning hundreds of millions of dollars per month, and since has become a cultural phenomenon.
Fortnite began from an internal game jam at Epic Games following the publishing of Gears of War 3 around 2011. Though it was not initially one of the developed titles during the jam, the concept of merging the construction game genre, representing games like Minecraft and Terraria, and shooter games arose, leading to the foundation of Fortnite. Development of Fortnite slowed due to several issues, including switching from the Unreal Engine 3 to Unreal Engine 4, a deeper role-playing game approach to extend the life of the game, and a switch of art style from a dark theme to a more cartoonish style. Further, Epic was looking to get into the games as a service model, and brought in Chinese publisher Tencent to help; Tencent took a large stake in Epic as part of this, leading to the departure of several executives, including Cliff Bleszinski, who had been a key part of Fortnite's development. Fortnite's approach was changed to be Epic's testbed for games as a service, and further slowed the development.
Ultimately, Epic was able to prepare to release Fortnite as a paid early access title in July 2017, with plans to release it as free-to-play sometime in 2019 while gaining feedback from players to improve the game. With the release of Fortnite Battle Royale, the player-versus-environment mode was distinguished as "Save the World".
Near the same time that Epic released Fortnite into early access, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds had become a worldwide phenomenon, having sold over 5 million copies three months from its March 2017 release, and drawing strong interest in the battle royale genre. Epic recognized that with the Fortnite base game, they could also do a battle royale mode, and rapidly developed their own version atop Fortnite in about two months. By September 2017, Epic was ready to release this as a second mode from "Save the World" in the paid-for earlier access, but then later decided to release it as a free game, Fortnite Battle Royale, supported with microtransactions. This version quickly gained players, with over 10 million players during its first two weeks of release, and leading Epic to create separate teams to continue the Fortnite Battle Royale development apart from the "Save the World" mode, outside of common engine elements and art assets. This allowed Fortnite Battle Royale to expand to other platforms otherwise not supported by the "Save the World" mode, including iOS and Android mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch.
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