Make no mistake: Fortnite is the game of the moment right now.
But why is everyone playing it? What is it exactly, and how suitable is it for children? We provide a rundown of what you need to know about the battle royale phenomenon.
What is Fortnite?
Fortnite is a third-person shooter game that sees up to 100 players jump out of a plane and parachute down across a large map, looking for weapons and gathering resources to build their own forts in order to survive. It’s a battle royale game, like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, so the last player standing wins.
The game features a cartoon-like graphical style, and combines third-person shooting action with construction gameplay akin to Minecraft. Each match generally lasts 10 to 15 minutes or so, but those who are killed early can leave and join a new match.
Fortnite is available on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and mobile.
Check out Fortnite in action in this trailer:
How popular is it?
This game is incredibly popular across the world, particularly with young people/children.
It has been downloaded by more than 40 million players, according to publisher Epic Games , and has around 200,000 average weekly viewers on online broadcasting platform Twitch, according to TwitchMetrics.
As well as the game’s appeal and accessibility, another reason for its popularity has been its crossover into the mainstream, with the backing of celebrities.
Popular game streamer Ninja played the game online with rapper Drake , and footballers such as Dele Alli have also streamed the game, while others like Antoine Griezmann celebrate real-life goals with Fortnite dances.
Is it suitable for children?
Fortnite currently has a 12 age rating from PEGI, the European video game content rating system.
“This game was rated PEGI 12 for frequent scenes of mild violence,” says the PEGI blurb. “It is not suitable for persons under 12 years of age.”
While Fortnite is a shooter game, it has a cartoon-like style, similar to another popular competitive game called Overwatch. Because of this, it’s not as violent as other more realistic shooters like Call of Duty or Counter-Strike, and thus has a lower age rating.
In-game voice chat is an option, which has been on and off throughout the game’s ‘early access’ status, but this could become more prominent in the future and is worth noting.
How much does it cost?
Fortnite is free to download and play the battle royale online mode, however players can spend real money to purchase optional in-game V-Bucks, which allow players to buy cosmetic outfits, dances and emotes and more.
Players can also earn small amounts of V-Bucks by completing daily quests, missions and levelling up.
1,000 V-Bucks cost £7.99, with discounts available when purchasing additional V-Bucks in bulk.
There is also a Battle Pass available for 950 V-Bucks, which allows players to unlock 100 in-game rewards over 100 tiers. The more they play, the more they unlock.
Aside from the online mode, a player-versus-computer mode with its own story is also available for £34.99. There is a single-player game mode that sees players fighting off against waves of computer-controlled monsters, but it’s important to note the most popular mode involves up to 100 players battling each other online.
What are the benefits of playing Fortnite? Parent network offers advice
A study of 858 parents of Fortnite-loving children, commissioned by ChannelMum.com, found that just under half of parents like the fact the game is sociable, while 43% say it’s nice to see their children so animated and excited about something.
Of the 46% of parents who think the game has had a positive influence, 52% like the fact their kids have made new friends online and 31% think they’ve become more confident since playing.
Plus, 61% of mums and dads are convinced their little one’s hand-eye co-ordination has improved since playing Fortnite and 37% think the game is important to keep children familiar with new technology.
Siobhan Freegard, founder of ChannelMum.com, which commissioned the research, said: “Our advice to parents is not to panic about Fortnite. Played sensibly it’s fun, sociable and can even help some children’s co-ordination skills. But like any habit, if it takes over all other activities, then it needs to be managed sensibly with limits imposed.
“Agree with your child what is acceptable use and ensure they stick to it. It may cause a Battle Royale in your home but it will be better for them long-term to have boundaries.
“However even if you fear your child is a Fortnite addict, just wait a few months and they’ll forget all about it when the next craze comes in. A few years ago it was Minecraft, and next year it will be something else. Playgrounds are fickle places and even the most popular games don’t stay top of the leader board forever.”
What kind of esports activities are available?
As Fortnite is still relatively new, there is currently a lack of professional esports leagues around the game (as of May 2018).
Publisher Epic Games has also revealed that Fortnite will have $100m in esports prize pools available.
Fortnite has a variety of game modes (solo/single player, duo – pairs, and squads), and it’s likely we’ll see different competitive tournaments emerge in the future featuring these different modes.
While Fortnite doesn’t have an established esports ecosystem just yet, top players are emerging and orgs are preparing teams. For example, Team Secret recently signed 13-year-old British gamer Kyle “Mongraal” Jackson .