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Desperate things Fortnite is doing to keep gamers away from Apex Legends

Since its release on Feb. 4, 2019, Apex Legends has quickly become the new battle royale game to keep an eye on. Racking up 2 million concurrent players within its first weekend, with 50 million players joining within its first full month of release, its easy to see why Epic Games might consider the Titanfall spin-off to be a potential threat to their own battle royale phenomenon, Fortnite

Though there are numerous differences between the way both games are played, Apex Legends has quickly become a force to be reckoned with. With EA's stock rising after Apex Legends' successful release, and with noted streamers like Tfue believing that Fortnite seems to be living on borrowed time, there have been several indications that Epic Games is desperate to hold on to their fanbase. From special discounts to big changes to their gameplay, here are just some of the ways that Epic is attempting to please longtime fans and woo back players who have left.

Announcing the Fortnite World Cup

Just a few weeks after the launch of Apex Legends, Epic Games announced that the Fortnite World Cup, a series of battle royale events set to take place each week throughout 2019, will have quite a substantial payout for the players who bring the goods. The qualifying rounds for the World Cup are scheduled to begin April 13, and the massive Finals event will be held in New York City. Every player participating in the Finals will be awarded $50,000. As if that weren't enough, the winner of the Finals will earn themselves $3 million. All told, the World Cup's accumulative prize pool adds up to an impressive $100 million.

That's quite a chunk of change for Epic to sink into the first-ever Fortnite World Cup, which seems to show how seriously they want players to take them. It's a good way to get the dollar signs dancing in the eyes of competitive players who may have considered leaving Fortnite for more "legendary" pastures.

Making Save The World half price IMMEDIATELY after Apex

There are a few simple facts of life, one of which being that everyone loves a good sale. From DLCs to full games, gamers love to upgrade their collection on the cheap, while publishers tend to enjoy all of the extra revenue brought in.

At first glance, that would seem to be the impetus behind Epic putting Fortnite: Save the World on sale for half its normal price in February 2019. The sale included all of the different versions of the game, including the Super Deluxe Edition.

However, the thing that makes this seem desperate is that the promotion began on Feb. 6, just two days after the release of Apex Legends. When you consider the timing of the sale, it's difficult not to see this as a ploy to sway Fortnite players back from Apex Legends.

Not one, but TWO Double XP events in February

Leveling up isn't easy. Whether you're playing a solo campaign like Final Fantasy or a massive online game like Fortnite, there's a lot of grinding involved to reach the next tier. That's one of the reasons why it's always exciting when your favorite game does something to give you an extra push in the right direction, like when Epic Games runs limited time events that boost the experience points of their players. In this case, Epic ran a Double XP weekend for Fortnite: Battle Royale from Feb. 15 through 17 … and then AGAIN, from Feb. 22 through 24.

While it's definitely an exciting time for Fortnite faithfuls to have two weekend-long chances at double experience points, this once again comes down to a matter of timing. Running not one, but two full weekends of Double XP in the month of Apex Legends' release just smacks of Epic scrambling for a quick way to turn heads and keep players invested, even for just a couple of weeks.

Targeting Fortnite ads at players searching for Apex Legends

Nobody wants to be forgotten, but Epic took things to the next level, in this instance. In quite possibly their most aggressive (and somewhat hilarious) move, Epic Games paid to have targeted ads for Fortnite appear on Google search pages when people searched for Apex Legends. This was first noticed by fansite Fortnite Intel, and let's be honest: if you're a game publisher and one of your fansites is calling you out on your pettiness, that's pretty intense.

While it may have been a smart business move on Epic's part to use search engine results for a competing game to keep themselves in the minds of players who may have been looking to jump ship, it also reeks of desperation.

Here, perhaps this will help put this situation in perspective: You, the reader, are sitting at home on the computer. Imagine searching for your spouse's name and instead, a note from your ex pops up, begging you to take them back. Not a great look on the part of Epic.

Offering a Season 8 Battle Pass to players for free

In February, shortly after the launch of Apex Legends, Epic shocked players with the announcement that they had an opportunity to earn a free Battle Pass for Season 8, saying, "Save your V-Bucks, this one's on us!" Players could unlock this free Battle Pass by completing 13 specific challenges spread throughout the Season 7 map. Sounds exciting, right? And who doesn't like free stuff? 

The Battle Pass, which normally retails around 950 of the game's V-Bucks currency (or $9.99 USD), "comes with 100 tiers that will unlock a number of different cosmetic items, including new skins, emotes, wraps and pets," with much more yet to be revealed (via Dexerto). 

This was surely exciting for players, but it's hard not to notice that this was the first time Epic Games had ever offered a free Battle Pass, overtime challenges or not. This looks like a smart way to get people excited for extra content and to encourage loyal players to put the extra time and effort into a game that they may have been drifting from, but it still shows a bit of fear on Epic's part.

Quadrupling Support-A-Creator payouts

Epic Games' Support-A-Creator program brings a nice extra revenue source to streamers, bloggers, etc. who are playing Fortnite. Players can pledge their spent V-Bucks toward their registered Creator of choice. For every 10,000 V-Bucks that they collectively spend within Fortnite, their chosen Creator gets $5. Creators can also see a percentage paid to them from purchases made by their supporters within the Epic Games Store.

In February, as part of Fortnite's "Share the Love" event, payouts from the Support-A-Creator program were quadrupled. In addition to the payout increase, players who participated were given free in-game cosmetics. In essence, this was not only a huge incentive for Creators to start pushing Fortnite-related content and getting it back into their followers' heads, but it also made players more likely to participate. 

This was actually a brilliant move on Epic's part to get people talking about the Support-A-Creator program again. However, it's also pretty obvious that this was a tactic to convince streamers and other YouTubers to focus on Fortnite over its most prominent competition.

Straight-up copying Apex Legends' ping system

Season 8 of Fortnite: Battle Royale launched with a few tweaks to the core gameplay, but none more obvious than a new mechanic extremely similar to Apex Legends' ping system. With the touch of a button, players can now see locations of nearby resources and can summon an indicator to show the presence of any enemies hiding nearby, as well as their distance from the player character. It's a solid mechanic, one that definitely comes in handy during battle royale combat. It also makes it harder for other players to sneak up on someone who just wants to be left alone to build in peace.

Players seem to be generally happy with the inclusion of the ping system, with Fortnite Master calling it "one of the largest quality of life improvements to Fortnite made." That still doesn't change the fact that this is clearly a case of Epic sweating the competition. 

Adding Reboot Vans

After developer comments back in February suggested the possible inclusion of a respawn mechanic in Fortnite, Epic Games is officially adding one to the game in the form of Reboot Vans. 

The similarities to Apex Legends' respawn mechanics are plentiful. As noted by The Verge, "Similar to Apex's implementation, there are some limits. The reboot vans can only be used one time and by one squad, meaning after one is activated it goes dormant for the remainder of the match." When one of your teammates in Battle Royale goes down, they'll drop what's called a Reboot Card. You can take this card to any of the vans stationed around the game map and use it to revive your teammate. This process is fairly identical to how the Respawn Beacons scattered around Apex Legends' map are utilized.

While this is definitely a neat addition to the game and will likely entice newbies to the battle royale genre who are worried about being taken out too quickly, it is also the most explicit lift of an Apex Legends mechanic since Fortnite added the ping system.

Two words: Weezer World

Shortly after the debut of Season 8, a particularly odd new island was found in Creative Mode. Sporting multiple unmistakable "W" logos, this is an island dedicated to the magic of Weezer. The rock band took to Twitter to thank the designers of the island, which features a jukebox that only plays (you guessed it!) Weezer songs, including tracks from the band's more recent records, the "Black Album" and the "Teal Album." As if the jukebox wasn't enough of a reason for fans to check out Weezer World, The Burn-In notes that the map also "features a skate park [and] a few indoor maze races." 

Teaming up with Weezer like this is a bizarre but fun move on the part of Epic Games, similar to their in-game concert collaboration with Marshmello. However, it's also clearly part of an effort to bring in new players to Fortnite. Pushing a new album release for an established artist is pretty savvy, and doing so through an in-game event could encourage fans of Weezer to sign up, even just to hear the new songs and check out this shrine to the band. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to see other bands and artists following suit.

It also, not so coincidentally, shoves Fortnite back into the conversation, and Apex out of it.

Stepping into the Arena

Epic Games added a ranked Arena mode as part of Fortnite's v8.20 update. This mode will allow players to battle with other players of similar skill levels. With so many attempting to get into the game and getting wiped out by more seasoned Fortnite gamers, this is Epic's way of telling potential newbies not to be afraid of joining in the fun. As Pro Game Guides puts it, "With this new Arena mode, there will be hope that the higher-skill players might start beating each other up rather than styling on the more casual players."

While there have been hints that Respawn may add some kind of skill-based matchmaking to Apex Legends, as well as a call from fans and streamers for some kind of ranking system within Apex, this is one way in which Fortnite has cut their competitor off at the pass. It's difficult for anyone to hop into a new game when they can expect to be slaughtered in less than thirty seconds, even with the chance for a revival. This could be one sure-fire way for Epic Games to assuage those fears of insta-failure and perhaps lure in newbies and lapsed fans alike.

Further World Cup incentives

Not only is the Fortnite World Cup poised to pay out big bucks to winners and participants, Epic Games has further sweetened the pot for any spectators interested in the event. All of the events' attendees will receive free V-Bucks to spend in-game, as well as a free Battle Pass for Season 10 of Fortnite.

The V-Bucks are already a sweet enough incentive, but giving gamers a free Battle Pass for Season 10 all but guarantees participating Fortnite players will stick with the battle royale game for at least two further seasons. Also, ticket-holders will actually have to attend the event to receive any of these rewards. They can't buy the tickets just to get their bonuses immediately, meaning these incentives are also specifically meant to draw crowds to the physical event.

All in all, it's pretty clear that Epic is investing quite a bit of time and money into the first Fortnite World Cup. It's an impressive bit of grandstanding on Epic's part, obviously intended get people talking about Fortnite again in a major way, as well as to overshadow any of the game's competition.