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Attn game devs: Fortnite Battle Royale is free-to-play done right

Fortnite Battle Royale

In-app purchases are a thing that you just have to accept these days, and they're not even new when it comes to PC or console games. But in recent times the "loot box" strategy has come under increasing scrutiny.

Even recently, Ubisoft's Rainbow Six: Siege chief defended them as "the gift shop after the rollercoaster." And of course, outrage makes headlines, but it seems gamers are putting up with them.

Nevertheless, let's take a moment to appreciate a game that's both free and has microtransactions but that does it right: Fortnite Battle Royale.

Completely free to play

Part of the rampant success Epic Games has enjoyed with Fortnite is related to the completely-free Battle Royale mode. Fortnite is a paid game, at least for now, but you only have to pay for the Save the World (opens in new tab) mode.

Fortnite Battle Royale is free, and at least for the foreseeable future that's how it'll stay. Epic Games has a way of monetizing it, but the important factor is that anyone who doesn't want to pay isn't hindered. Nothing anyone can buy will give them a competitive advantage. Whether you spend $0 or $100, what differentiates you is your skill.

Battle Pass and the cosmetics model

Fortnite Battle Royale

Fortnite has "V-Bucks," the in-game currency, and it's these you exchange for the items you want to buy. You can earn V-Bucks by playing, but mostly you'll be handing over your money for them. And if you want the Battle Pass every season, you'll have to use V-Bucks to buy it.

Playing the game on the free tier will still allow you to unlock a selection of new outfits and emotes, XP and maybe more. Buying the Battle Pass significantly increases what you unlock.

Is it worth it for the additional outfits, emotes, bonus XP and V-Bucks? Well, if you're a regular Fortnite player, yes, it is. Don't ask me to explain it, but when those new outfits come out, or there's a new pickaxe design or glider, an "I must have that" mentality comes over you. That's just the way it is.

But they're only cosmetic. You can't glide further with that new design that costs 800 V-Bucks. None of the outfits will give you special armor or abilities. They're all just skins.

It's clearly working

Fortnite Battle Royale

You could say Epic is ripping people off a little since the prices of a lot of the new outfits are pretty high. Higher than the Battle Pass costs for an entire season, in fact.

And yet every time you go into a game, you see endless players with the new stuff equipped. It seems gamers love skins, and I'm almost ashamed to admit that I've spent way too much money in Fortnite already.

But this is the way microtransactions should be done. I'm not at a disadvantage if I don't buy the latest outfit. I just look a little more boring. What screws me over is my (lack of) ability, not the size of my wallet.

Epic Games is making mountains of money on Fortnite Battle Royale. The company is also releasing regular patches, investing development resources in making the game better and more enjoyable for all, and it is interacting with the people who make the game as fun as it is: The players.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

7 Comments
  • Can't say I agree with you Richard. I'll never pay for anything that's purely cosmetic. I'm playing a game, not walking down a catwalk. Although I hate games where you HAVE to pay to advance, I think there should be tangible benefits from your payments. I am more fond of the World of tanks approach. You can play the game completely free, but you can pay for extra garage spots or bigger crew accommodations. And better training for your crews. Tangible benefits, that aren't necessary to play the game. Sure, if you really have more money than braincells, you can buy super-duper ammo. That's not for me, but I don't mind if other people do. Just makes it more challenging.
  • So you'd rather play a game where someone who pays money has an advantage over someone who doesn't.
  • I totally disagree, Never ever ever should $$$$ give you an advantage!! The game is the game!!!! If I pay $60 for a game that's all I should pay to play and win....if I got the skills!!!! I CALL BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • What? This game is free. If you spend 60 bucks your character will look good. Nothing else.
  • There needs to be a system that matches players of comparable skill. Too often, games like this are just a murder fest of a few highly skilled players mowing down the noobs. Translated: As a casual gamer, I might stay alive more than two minutes if I wasn't in the same game with hardcore folk who have played thousands of hours because apparently they don't have jobs to go to.
  • Something they floated an idea on and the top players shot down. Probably because they don't want to play Ninja every game. But, a ranked playlist would be great. Giving those players somewhere to go while allowing the more casual players to stick in unranked.
  • I do like the BR style of Vbucks they do now I wish they would do better on the save the world piece(PvE). I have been a founder for some time and when the only way to advance in the game is loot box items it really just hurts the game.