At GDC, Epic Games’ GM Ed Zobrist dropped some juicy details on the development process behind Fortnite: Battle Royale. The game mode has been a huge success, and since its launch in September it’s become one of the most-played games on the planet. One of the keys to Fortnite: Battle Royale‘s success is its free-to-play financial model, which allowed it to amass a huge audience quickly. However, the popular player-vs-player mode almost wasn’t released as F2P according to Zobrist.
Fortnite: Battle Royale was originally intended to be secondary to Save the World. It was an afterthought meant to please those who wanted a break from the main game for some PvP action. In fact, development on Battle Royale wasn’t even started until around the time Save the World released.
Epic Games earmarked around two months to develop Fortnite‘s multiplayer mode. The development cycle was so tight that developers from the Unreal Tournament team were called in to help get it done in time. The initial plan was to include Battle Royale with every purchase of Fortnite: Save the World, but around two weeks before the mode launched, the decision was made to make it free-to-play and to separate it from Save the World.
Epic Games’ foresight ended up providing the formula that’s made Fortnite: Battle Royale a smash hit. If it had gone with the first plan, Battle Royale would be $40, and with the lukewarm reception Save the World received, most wouldn’t have given it another glance. The way things turned out though, a secondary multiplayer game mode that took two months to develop is making more money than AAA games that have spent years in development.