Since Fortnite launched in 2017, players have logged over 10 million years worth of playtime on the game. That’s a huge amount of time, making it one of the most popular games ever. According to VentureBeat, Fortnite earned an incredible $400 million in April 2020 alone. The majority of Fortnite players are aged between 10 and 25. Therefore, we can assume a lot of this money comes from reluctant parents. Children want the latest skins to look cool in the game, so they beg for $5 here and $10 there. Little amounts, but it adds up quick and is clearly profitable for Epic Games. Yet, the company seeks to hook players in even further by introducing a new monthly subscription service, named Fortnite Crew.
Monthly subscription models are the capitalist utopia right now. Instead of relying on providing a mega-hit to earn profit, your loyal fanbase hands over cash on a regular schedule. We’ve seen this idea replicated across the entertainment medium lately, with Netflix, Disney+ and now Xbox Game Pass. However, there is a fundamental difference between these and Fortnite’s monthly Crew service.
Netflix, Disney+ and Xbox Game Pass all share a wonderfully positive trait that Fortnite Crew clearly lacks. They unite people. New Netflix original movies, new Disney+ shows, new Xbox games all bring people together. Whether it’s families gathering around a screen for movie night or jumping into a new addition to Game Pass’ impressive library with your friends online, they all give an opportunity to share in the joy of entertainment. They provide new worlds, new smiles and incredible value, allowing more people than ever before to access movies, TV and gaming.
Fortnite Crew, on the other hand, provides a one-time dopamine hit that fades within seconds. The $11.99 monthly subscription gives very little for the surprisingly high cost. A Crew subscription grants players the current Battle Pass, along with 1000 V Bucks and an exclusive skin bundle. However, Battle Passes are not monthly occurrences. Throughout 2019, Fortnite had a total of 4 different seasons for example. If the player already has the battle pass, as would be the case for most months if you are a regular subscriber, then the membership instead grants them a further 950 V Bucks (the value of a Battle Pass). So, Crew members unlock a new exclusive skin each month, along with a meagre amount of virtual currency to get them hooked on the in-game store.
This is likely to lead Fortnite players to the store more than ever, which in turn could lead to more sales. Of course, this is great for Epic Games. More money in there pocket from every avenue. However, for the working family this will only lead to more problems. This one payment every month will not provide players with all the skins they want. Instead, it’s just another payment added on to the monthly bill, along with all those other Fortnite skins that still need to be purchased. Fortnite Crew will not unite during hard times, as Netflix, Disney+ and Game Pass do. Instead, it will only increase tension, pulling families apart. It also fuels arguments on the playground, as children who get this new service have their egos fuelled by new skins. Those who can’t get the new service are bullied and excluded.
Whilst other monthly services I’ve mentioned allow more people than ever before to find joy in entertainment industries across the world, Fortnite Crew does the exact opposite. Sure, those with a stable job and few worries might happily buy this, that’s not an issue at all. However, for those families living paycheck-to-paycheck, this is another argument on the horizon. Furthermore, it’s a model that will only lead to wanting more, as those few V Bucks included in the service will entice players to want even more.
With the Covid 19 pandemic continuing to cause hardship around the world, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. Stores are closing, businesses are collapsing and many families are losing their primary sources of income. With people across the world stuck at home all day, they are playing more video games than ever before. Epic have seized the opportunity to hook their audience even further. As is commonly seen in the corporate world, the impact this could have on families will not be considered. More revenue streams equals more profit for Epic Games. However, for those painfully loosening the purse-strings once again, it’s a predatory practice and a shameful venture.
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