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Why 'Fortnite' On iOS/Android Is The Most Important Mobile Game Ever

March 13,2018 15:10

Fortnite: Battle Royale is huge. The last time we witnessed anything this big in gaming was in July of 2016 with the launch of Pokemon GO. And while that game was certainly even bigger, dragging thousands of gamers and non-gamers alike outside of their ...


Erik Kain , Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Credit: Epic Games

'Fortnite' may be the most important mobile game ever made.

Fortnite: Battle Royale is huge. The last time we witnessed anything this big in gaming was in July of 2016 with the launch of Pokemon GO. And while that game was certainly even bigger, dragging thousands of gamers and non-gamers alike outside of their houses and into the streets to capture and enslave adorable little monsters before sending them to the fighting pits, Fortnite promises to be even more important to the gaming industry at large.
After all, nobody can truly replicate what Niantic did with Pokemon GO. Not only is the Pokemon IP one-of-a-kind (worth more than even Star Wars in terms of total sales) no other company has the geo-location data that Niantic has (thanks to Ingress.) The company's partnership with Google and its use of user-generated data is simply so far ahead of any possible competitor, I don't think we'll ever see a game quite like it.
Fortnite, on the other hand, promises a real revolution. The fact that it's coming to mobile devices and isn't changing one iota from its console and PC versions (save for inputs, obviously) speaks to the power and versatility of the Unreal Engine. The fact that it's also going to be cross-play with PC, Mac and consoles is also revolutionary. No other major game has even attempted this, and if Epic can pull it off with Fortnite they'll have hard evidence that this kind of thing can work. That could change everything.
Mobile Games Could Be More Than What They Are
If Fortnite on iOS and Android is a hit---and I have no doubt that it will be---it could change the way we think about mobile games. We often look at mobile games as lesser creations than their PC and console counterparts, and there's a simple reason for that: They often are much more bare-boned, simplistic and, sadly, exploitative than their bigger cousins.
If Fortnite can translate to mobile completely intact, it's proof that game developers can do much more with mobile games than they're currently shooting for. If nothing else, Fortnite could be an injection of ambition into the mobile game community. More and more AAA console and PC games could start releasing full versions on iOS and Android, with adjustments made only for inputs. The gap in graphics is becoming less and less an issue, so now it's just a matter of install size and gameplay.
If Epic can pull this off, they'll showcase Unreal Engine as a game engine capable of running the same game across multiple platforms, which is a pretty great selling point.
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Cross-Play
The other reason Fortnite on mobile is so important is the fact that Epic is releasing it as a seamless experience between mobile, consoles, PC and Mac. You can have one account and play on all your devices. And you can play across platforms with other players. So you could play in the same squad with your friends or family playing on tablets and PS4 and/or Xbox One (there still won't be cross-play between the two console giants, sadly. Nor is there any indication that the game is coming to Nintendo Switch.)
Once again, if Epic can pull this off it's good news for the gaming industry at large and especially for gamers. I'm not saying any sane person should play on their tablet against PC players, but just the ability to do it signals a potential sea change in gaming. Opening up all these platforms to cross-play can only be good news for gamers. It means more people to play with in multiplayer games. More populated servers translates directly into a better gaming experience (for the most part.)
It's important to note that PC players can't just log on and queue up in a mobile server. That would lead to all kinds of unfair, imbalanced play. But mobile players can choose to play on a PC or PS4/Xbox One server. Cross-play is going to have some big hurdles (like input imbalance) but at least with this kind of opt-in system we won't have PC players trolling tablet and phone players.
PUBG on mobile
PUBG beat Fortnite to mobile, but not in the West (yet.) Right now there are two PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds mobile games available in China, and they're both regarded as very good games, especially the one that essentially mirrors the PC/console version almost identically. This is one reason I think Fortnite, which is a much better optimized game, can pull this off. It's also evidence that this sort of release will do well on mobile, and probably ought to make more AAA publishers pay closer attention.
Certainly nobody in the game industry has ignored the battle royale phenomenon, and a mobile version of Fortnite will only make this emerging genre more relevant.
Why wouldn't Rockstar release a full-throated version of GTA V or Red Dead Redemption 2 on mobile? Or at least the online portions of these games. Why not develop a full-featured Call of Duty for mobile, or a battle royale version of that franchise on mobile if nothing else?
I expect we'll see a great deal more of this sort of thing following Fortnite's massive success, especially if it's as successful (or more so) on mobile. Epic Games has said that this type of seamless cross-play between platforms is the 'future' of gaming, and I'm inclined to believe them.

GalleryFortnite: Battle Royale
Launch Gallery
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