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Fortnite Battle Royale, a game mode in the recently released third-person shooter Fortnite, will be free to all players on PS4, Xbox One and PC beginning September 26, even if they don't own the original game.
Epic Games made the surprising announcement today, also revealing that players who purchased the game in order to play its Battle Royale mode can receive a full refund, if they purchased the game between September 12 - 19. Epic asked players to contact them in order to do so.
Explaining the reasoning behind the decision to offer the mode for free, Epic said: "We launched a public test and it worked better than we expected. We want the game to reach as many players as possible, so we decided to release Battle Royale for free sooner than we anticipated." Discussing whether or not the mode will be pay-to-win, Epic continued: "No. We will not sell items that give a competitive advantage. At some point in the future we will sell other things including cosmetics or compendium-like content."
This is a surprising but clever move by Epic, as the Fortnite Battle Royale mode will certainly be the most popular aspect of the game as a result of the success of PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, and opening it up to everyone should ensure more purchases of the full game. With PUBG not set to make its way to the Xbox One until later this year, this effectively means that Epic is getting its foot in the door before the blockbuster PC game makes its first steps onto consoles.
It remains to be seen whether or not Fortnite Battle Royale enjoys a similar level of success to PUBG, and while it's certainly unlikely, it could well cultivate itself an audience that will help dramatically increase sales of the main game.
Check out the gameplay trailer for the mode below: