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'Fortnite: Battle Royale' On iOS And Android Is About A Lot More Than Just 'Fortnite'

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Credit: Epic Games.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Yesterday, Epic Games dropped a bomb on a community of video game journalists already reeling from an unceasing barrage of announcements that sort of came out of nowhere for a random Thursday in March. Fortnite: Battle Royale is already one of the most popular games in the world, if not the, but the developer is going to release it on iOS and Android, making it available to a massive gaming population all over the world and moving it one step closer to complete dominance. It’s a big move.

At the heart of this decision is Fortnite: Battle Royale, a hugely popular game that Epic would like to make more money off of. This is not a particularly complicated side to this story: more people means more players, means more revenue. Cross-play between (nearly) all platforms means a larger community, shorter matchmaking and an easier time populating new modes. But I was struck by this one particular line from yesterday’s release:

We believe this is the future of games. The same game on all platforms. Console quality graphics and action. Play when you want, where you want.”

We remember that Epic is the company that makes Fortnite like Microsoft is the company that makes Xbox: both have a much bigger fish in the fryer. Epic also makes the Unreal Engine, a versatile piece of middleware that powers AAA games on down to indies and which in recent years has grown to be one of the most important pieces of software in the video game industry writ large. And that’s a big part of what Epic is trying to do with this mobile port: to show other developers what’s possible with Unreal.

Fortnite was already a sterling advertisement for Unreal’s versatility: Epic took a game built as a co-op survival RPG and turned it completely on its head in a matter of months, keeping the essential gameplay intact but turning it into a battle royale shooter ala PUBG. That lightning quick development speed is a big part of why&nbsp;Fortnite&nbsp;is so big right now: it managed to capitalize on&nbsp;PUBG fever before anyone else, and when it arrived it did so with a quicker content pipeline and much more stable gameplay (PUBG&nbsp;is also built on Unreal, but suffice to say the developers at Epic have a bit more experience with the thing).

So that’s one major advertisement for Unreal that showcases speed, adaptability and potential. A mobile port, particularly one with cross-play, is a much bigger one. Easy porting is a huge part of what middleware like Unreal or Unity can do in 2018: it’s supported by all major platforms, and while nothing is exactly a one-click port, building your game on middleware heads off a lot of the problems developers face moving from one platform to the other, even when they’re as disparate as mobile and PS4. This is the message that Epic is sending by moving to port this game as quickly as it is: if we can do it, so can you, the developers are saying. It’s a message that’s only bolstered by the extensive cross-play. It says to developers that if you build it on Unreal, it really is the same game across no matter where you play it.

This is Epic’s vision, and it’s one I like: a platform-agnostic development cycle where technical limitations for ports are as close to nonexistent as possible, allowing developers to focus on their games and reach a broader audience while the Unreal Engine handles the grunt work. From that perspective, the success of Fortnite is a big, shining beacon of what you can do with Unreal once you get really good at it. Every developer is hoping their game becomes the next worldwide sensation, however unlikely that may be. And when it happens, Epic wants you to know that you can move quickly to capitalize on that success. Somewhat ironically,&nbsp;PUBG is an ad for Unreal here too, just not quite such a powerful one.

Fortnite is massive, but every craze ends sometime. When the dust settles, Epic will still be the company sitting on Unreal Engine, and at the end of the day it’s a much more valuable property.

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Credit: Epic Games.

Fortnite: Battle Royale

Yesterday, Epic Games dropped a bomb on a community of video game journalists already reeling from an unceasing barrage of announcements that sort of came out of nowhere for a random Thursday in March. Fortnite: Battle Royale is already one of the most popular games in the world, if not the, but the developer is going to release it on iOS and Android, making it available to a massive gaming population all over the world and moving it one step closer to complete dominance. It’s a big move.

At the heart of this decision is Fortnite: Battle Royale, a hugely popular game that Epic would like to make more money off of. This is not a particularly complicated side to this story: more people means more players, means more revenue. Cross-play between (nearly) all platforms means a larger community, shorter matchmaking and an easier time populating new modes. But I was struck by this one particular line from yesterday’s release:

We believe this is the future of games. The same game on all platforms. Console quality graphics and action. Play when you want, where you want.”

We remember that Epic is the company that makes Fortnite like Microsoft is the company that makes Xbox: both have a much bigger fish in the fryer. Epic also makes the Unreal Engine, a versatile piece of middleware that powers AAA games on down to indies and which in recent years has grown to be one of the most important pieces of software in the video game industry writ large. And that’s a big part of what Epic is trying to do with this mobile port: to show other developers what’s possible with Unreal.

Fortnite was already a sterling advertisement for Unreal’s versatility: Epic took a game built as a co-op survival RPG and turned it completely on its head in a matter of months, keeping the essential gameplay intact but turning it into a battle royale shooter ala PUBG. That lightning quick development speed is a big part of why Fortnite is so big right now: it managed to capitalize on PUBG fever before anyone else, and when it arrived it did so with a quicker content pipeline and much more stable gameplay (PUBG is also built on Unreal, but suffice to say the developers at Epic have a bit more experience with the thing).

So that’s one major advertisement for Unreal that showcases speed, adaptability and potential. A mobile port, particularly one with cross-play, is a much bigger one. Easy porting is a huge part of what middleware like Unreal or Unity can do in 2018: it’s supported by all major platforms, and while nothing is exactly a one-click port, building your game on middleware heads off a lot of the problems developers face moving from one platform to the other, even when they’re as disparate as mobile and PS4. This is the message that Epic is sending by moving to port this game as quickly as it is: if we can do it, so can you, the developers are saying. It’s a message that’s only bolstered by the extensive cross-play. It says to developers that if you build it on Unreal, it really is the same game across no matter where you play it.

This is Epic’s vision, and it’s one I like: a platform-agnostic development cycle where technical limitations for ports are as close to nonexistent as possible, allowing developers to focus on their games and reach a broader audience while the Unreal Engine handles the grunt work. From that perspective, the success of Fortnite is a big, shining beacon of what you can do with Unreal once you get really good at it. Every developer is hoping their game becomes the next worldwide sensation, however unlikely that may be. And when it happens, Epic wants you to know that you can move quickly to capitalize on that success. Somewhat ironically, PUBG is an ad for Unreal here too, just not quite such a powerful one.

Fortnite is massive, but every craze ends sometime. When the dust settles, Epic will still be the company sitting on Unreal Engine, and at the end of the day it’s a much more valuable property.

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