If you were anywhere near an internet connection this past weekend, chances are Fortnite crossed your radar at least once. Twitter, Facebook, and Twitch were exploding with buzz about the game, and any website that even vaguely covers video games was getting in on the action. Heck, even traditional news stations were focused on the game.
So what was all the hubbub about? Epic pulled the plug on Fortnite. Temporarily, anyway.
Pulling the plug
At the culmination of an event suitably called “The End,” Fortnite players had their games, and even lobbies, sucked into a virtual black hole. Seriously, you can’t play Epic’s cash cow right now no matter how hard you try. When you boot up the game, all you’ll see is a black hole taunting you from a great, dark abyss.
That has been enough to cause everything from outrage from players to hot anticipation across the web. It’s not restricted to Fortnite’s millions of players, either; even those of us who haven’t caught the Fortnite bug are talking about the game. That’s how big of a cultural touchstone this game has become in recent years.
This drama is all in service of what could be one of the biggest changes to Fortnite in years: a revamped map with loads of new features and the start of Fortnite’s next chapter. Not long after the game’s planned collapse, an alleged trailer for Fortnite Chapter 2: Season 1 leaked, showing off additions like player-controlled boats, fishing, new ways to level, and more.
Bold moves work
Epic is no stranger to big, season-long events in Fortnite, which often culminate in pretty epic ways. This latest one is an evolution of that formula. But instead of just dropping a revamped map at the start of the season, Epic has flipped expectations, taking a bold step that was virtually guaranteed to get the game on everyone’s radar.
It’s a clever marketing move on Epic’s part. The company is certainly losing out on shiploads of money during this downtime, and there’s no concrete indication of when the game will be back up. However, all of the buzz and media attention created by one of the biggest games in the world going dark for an indefinite amount of time will likely cause a massive surge of player activity and draw in new players when it returns.
The one big takeaway from all of this is that other live-service games could learn a thing or two from Epic here. We’ll no doubt see copycat versions of this event across other games, but it won’t be the same now that Fortnite has done it. Still, in a gaming environment filled with constantly updating and evolving online multiplayer games, standing out could come down to taking bold, unexpected moves.
I’m not planning to dive into Fortnite even after this event. However, I am definitely going to keep up with this saga to see how Epic plans to bring the game back to life. The very fact that I’m following Fortnite at all means that Epic has done something right here.
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