Fortnite's biggest challenge
Possibly the most acute challenge that Epic faces with how to maintain Fortnite's momentum is one that many popular games have met: how to attract new players while keeping the existing base happy.
If Epic wants to further cultivate the game’s fan base then it might have an uphill climb. The developer announced in June that the player base had grown to 125 million players (if it were a country, it'd be the 12th largest in the world). After all the hype and the free price tag, the game is probably close to a saturation point for growth. In order to attract new players to an already pretty approachable and available game, Epic could include new modes, new features, new tutorials, etc. And that's precisely what many longtime adherents to the game don't want.
One of the most popular recent posts on the Fortnite Battle Royale subreddit is a rallying cry to not let Epic ruin the game by nerfing it down for newbies.
"Are we really still having a blast playing this game?" Reddit user Sora26 wrote. "Are you playing this game like you were in Season 3-4? I know I’m not. I know my friends aren’t. This game use to be the jello, now it’s just sugar and water."
There are many, many posts like this on forums, all saying that Epic's desire to appeal to more casual fans continues to dumb down the game to an unplayable state.
"When I first started this game, I couldn’t build a wall," Sora26 continued. "I didn’t ask for devs to change the whole FREAKIN game so that I could get a couple of cheeky kills at the expense of more experienced players. This is seriously such a dumb route to take."
Players often threaten to quit over any change or stagnation, but it does say something that this is one of the forum’s more popular posts in recent weeks.
Epic might be trying to have its slurp juice and drink it, too.
While it continues to move away from a playing style that many favor, including the previously mentioned scourge of "just build, lol," it has sunk a lot of money to support and promote its high-level play. In June, Epic announced the launch of a 2018-2019 competitive season, providing $100,000,000 to fund prize pools, which will all culminate in a "Fortnite World Cup" in late 2019.
And that's not the only weight it's put behind competitive play. The Summer Skirmish, an E3 event and Solo Showdowns are all examples of how Epic wants Fortnite to be a dominant eSport. It clearly sees a lot of benefit in keeping attention on the game, even when people aren't playing it. And in order to do that, you need dedicated expert players who aren't turned off by hat tipping to newcomers.
Whether Epic can successfully walk this line remains to be seen, but the future of Fortnite will likely include more discussions around how possible it is.
Epic doesn't want to lose the particular lightning that it bottled, but it has to continually shift and add to it to maintain interest. The Fortnite of the future will likely continue to change while trying very hard to stay on the same course. The question that remains is whether players will flock to the next Battle Royale boon or be willing to take one more jump off the Battle Bus.