Why the future of Fortnite may blow you away

We're running out of ways to talk about what a smash success Fortnite is. Thanks to Battle Royale, you've probably never read as much news or watched as many YouTube videos about a game. There are popular titles that enjoy a fast start and fizzle. And then there are games like Fortnite, which seem to have a staying power that cannot be denied.

And this isn't even Fortnite's final form.

Changes are brewing behind the scenes at Epic Games. The studio doesn't want the Fortnite fad to fade, and it's doing everything it can to keep the madness going. That means adding new features, experimenting with the Fortnite formula, and furthering the game's story. But there are other ways the company can make sure Fortnite lives on, and you'll learn about those, too. Some come from popular players of the game; some are additions that seem inevitable based on industry trends.

The future of Fortnite may blow you away. Here's why.

Fortnite has the potential to become an esports monster

Not many games start with esports in mind. In fact, quite a few of them play catch-up after they become popular. At launch, developers and publishers have to hope that a player base materializes, and that the competitive aspects of the game are addictive enough to get people hooked. Only then can a pro scene become sustainable, leading to large-scale tournaments and teams that field rosters of competitive players.

Fortnite is certainly on its way to becoming a big esports title. But as far as potential goes? It could be an absolute beast in the professional gaming space.

Streamers like Ninja have become popular because of how fun Fortnite streams are to watch. But competitive Fortnite matches aren't quite as exciting to spectate. There's just way too much hiding, which means you don't get to see the fun antics and clutch multi-kills found on a streamer's Twitch channel. If Epic can figure out a way to encourage pro players to spend less time holed up in forts and more time shooting at each other, Fortnite could become one of the most entertaining esports, period.

Until then, pro Fortnite matches will play more like hide-and-seek than battles between skilled shooters. And that's just not fun to watch.

The game's Playground mode could give Minecraft a run for its money

If you've ever played Fortnite, you likely feel one of two ways about it. You either appreciate the fort-building aspects of the game and the fresh twist they put on the battle royale genre. Or you find building to be a total nuisance, and you'd rather fire your gun at another player than build a tower into the sky.

It's hard to deny, though, that the "fort" in Fortnite is a defining feature. And the game's new Playground Mode, which puts those construction features on full display, could play a bigger part in Fortnite's future than anyone realizes right now.

Playground Mode allows players to roam the Fortnite world freely, chopping down trees, gathering materials, and building structures without the fear of enemy bullets. It's not unlike the more creative modes found in Minecraft, and players have used Playground to build incredibly elaborate skyscrapers and mazes. The mode encourages imagination, and it's not hard to believe that — should Epic add more building features to the game — players could take their creations to the next level.

The mode could seriously challenge Minecraft with a bit more love. And there's no reason to think Epic isn't paying attention to that fact.

Fortnite regularly offers new, experimental modes

To Fortnite's credit,the game hasn't been content to rest on the laurels of its 100-player, everyone-for-themselves battle royale mode. Though that's undeniably what made the title as popular as it is, Epic has done a pretty good job when it comes to experimenting with other modes, too. There's the aforementioned Playground Mode, for instance. And Fortnite has also toyed with the battle royale formula, introducing offshoots like 50 vs. 50 and the "Solid Gold" mode.

And Epic's willingness to explore changes to the game? That could pay off big.

Imagine if the studio happens to stumble upon an entirely new multiplayer mode that players can't put down. There are a whole lot of games in the battle royale genre as it is, and even more coming from major properties like Call of Duty. It's hard to believe that "battle royale fatigue" won't set in at some point, which means that Epic has a bit of motivation to look for the next big thing. Finding it? That could set Fortnite up for success even years down the line, when we're all sick and tired of vanilla battle royale.

Fortnite has a ton of merch opportunities

The mega-popularity of Fortnite has benefited quite a few wallets in the video game world. Twitch streamers and YouTubers are pumping out Fortnite content like crazy, and the audience for that content is only getting larger. Pro players are also starting to find their way with the game, as events like Summer Skirmish become more common and professional esports teams start taking the game more seriously. And then, of course, there's Epic, which is making money hand-over-fist from Fortnite.

But would you believe that Epic could make even more money from the game? Because it absolutely can.

Merchandise like t-shirts are always a predictable path — one Epic has already gone down. But Twitch streamer Ninja sees an even bigger opportunity for Fortnite to capitalize on merch.

"Give me some collectibles," Ninja said while streaming back in February 2018. "Start selling the Boogie Bomb, Slurp, Shield Potions that people can collect."

It's not hard to imagine a world where players collect Fortnite trinkets that appear in game just as they do Amiibo or POP! figurines. And should Epic get that gravy train rolling, Fortnite could potentially become more than just a game. It could become a brand.

Gifting could get even more gamers hooked

Merchandise? That's something Epic can explore to up its Fortnite profits in the future. But don't think for a second that the studio has been sitting back simply raking in money, and hasn't been thinking about how it can make more. It's a business, after all. It's always looking for more ways to get people to spend money inside Fortnite, and it appears Epic already has a new idea in mind.

That idea is gifting: allowing people to purchase Fortnite items for other people.

Here's the thing about Fortnite. It's a free-to-play game, which is great for getting players in the door. But a whole lot of those players aren't buying anything. Some are too young to even own a credit card, which means Epic is supporting a whole lot of players who aren't profitable. Gifting is a way for others to pump money into Epic's coffers on behalf of others, whether they're friends buying for friends, streamers doing giveaways, or a parent simply gifting an item to a child's account to control the amount of money spent.

It's a natural addition to the game, and one that'll undoubtedly help Epic make even more ridiculous cash from Fortnite.

Fortnite has tons of narrative upside

Fortnite is due a lot of credit for shaking up the world of video games. For instance, it's handed free-to-play games a lot of credibility. They were once viewed as money-grabbing scams with annoying time-gated mechanics. And now? Epic has shown they can be incredibly refined experiences that just happen to include microtransactions.

But nothing about Fortnite may be as impressive as what the game's done with its story.

Pure multiplayer games aren't exactly known for providing compelling narratives. But the way Fortnite has set up its game world to evolve is something truly unique and special. Players now congregate online to share changes they've found in their favorite drop zones. And those who are heavily invested in the game look forward to the beginning of each new season, when major events play out for all to see.

The Verge was so bold to say that Fortnite "has the most interesting video game story in years," citing the game's rocket launch event at the end of June 2018. It's something you won't really find in PUBG, and that's what made it so amazing to take in. There's more than meets the eye inside the world of Fortnite, and Epic deserves a hat tip for doing more than simply being a multiplayer shooter.

It'll only get more interesting from here.

Fortnite's mobile presence could present innovative new game modes

Fortnite is big enough to break out of the video game world and into the real one. We've hit on some of the ways the game can do this, such as through merchandising. But there exists a way for Fortnite to become a breakout hit once again in both. And Epic doesn't have to look further than one of the most iconic video game franchises of all time, Pokemon, to find inspiration.

Fortnite could explore augmented reality.

Augmented reality, or AR for short, melds the real world and software into one. In Pokemon Go, for example, it enables you to walk around your own neighborhood and find Pokemon to add to your collection. It turns the parks you know into habitats for the popular digital monsters, and transforms your churches and schools into Pokemon Gyms.

An AR version of Fortnite could work similarly, letting you build structures on your phone that fortify your backyard. And since Fortnite is already on both iOS and Android — and being played by millions — the install base is there. All Epic has to do is take that next step.