Fortnite: most successful MMO ever?
Most people would call Fornite a battle royale game, but to do so would be missing the point. That would be like calling the NFL and Superbowl a fitness program.
The problem is that Massively Multiplayer Online Games(MMOs) aren’t actually games. Let’s look at the first MMOs, called Multi-user Dungeons (MUDs). These were text-based virtual worlds that were created as a way to escape the physical one. People don’t flock to virtual worlds to be someone else, they are drawn to them because they can be their true self. Like the real world, MMOs need a point. That’s why they introduced light game like mechanics to give the people there something to do. In the same way that real life has social hierarchy, the early MUDs implemented leveling and character progression. But the point wasn’t to create a game. The light game mechanics were in service of the virtual world.
The real world is the suffocating one that doesn’t allow people to be who they want to be. It’s only under the vast, anonymous, yet connected nature of the internet that many people can be who they truly are and find a sense of community.
Fortnite didn’t cannibalize other games. But it is probably the reason participation in after school sports is down year over year. Instead of the skate park, soccer practice or the mall, kids are hanging out in Fortnite. It’s a persistent, shared world that’s always alive with new content. It’s more about what happens outside the game than inside. It has playground and creative mode which aren’t games at all, but are extremely popular. For all but the best players, even battle royale is more downtime than action. There’s the time spent in a lobby getting a group of friends together. There’s the early part of the game looting or the endgame spectating. There’s a lot of built in down time where friends can talk to each other over party chat or in a live stream.
Fortnite has successfully created a place where an entire generation can be their true selves. And as was the point of the earliest MMOs, find true freedom.