Fortnite has smashed the top-grossing game chart on iPhone after only three weeks since it’s public release, bringing in $15 million in microtransactions – $10.5 million of which went to published Epic Games, according to Digital Trends. And while it’s not official yet, Fortnite may have set new records for a mobile game with that kind of revenue. For comparison, Pokemon GO earned between $4-5 million on its first day of worldwide release, but a breakdown of its first few days, especially by operation system, is frustratingly difficult to track down.
And while Fortnite, in all likelihood, won’t be able to keep up this momentum – it just doesn’t have the sort of broad appeal of Pokemon GO or the Skinner Box-style addictiveness of Clash of Clans. It’s still a remarkable entry into mobile gaming, particularly for a fully-featured third-person title designed for modern consoles rather than a smartphone. Which is to say, part of the success of games like Pokemon and Clash is that they were designed for mobile devices in the first place, and their gameplay and controls reflect that.
That said, according to Forbes, the iPhone controls for Fortnite are surprisingly good. As Forbes contributor Paul Tassi noted, controls are consistently the biggest failure point for mobile game releases, shooters in particular; smartphones were just never designed with shooting games in mind (a task which usually requires a mouse and keyboard, with apologies to the dedicated controller users.) The game accomplishes this with two “thumbsticks” – one which controls movement, and one which controls aim. Tapping the aim stick fires, with a jump button right above it.
These sorts of intuitive controls are what mobile games are going to need to succeed moving forward, as mobile gamers have largely not adopted the use of peripherals for their games; after all, most gamers are playing on their phones in the first place because they’re somewhere that they can’t use a console. Carrying a separate controller will (hopefully) never catch on for the daily bus ride.
According to The Verge, Fortnite iOS has earned almost $7 million in the last week, surpassing mainstays of the iPhone app store including Pokemon GO, Clash of Clans, and Candy Crush Saga which have (in some cases) been at the top of the list for years. And according to some observers, the secret to their success is their cross-platform compatibility: players maintain one Fortnite account across all platforms, meaning that mobile purchases will also be usable on their PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, or Mac.
It remains to be seen whether Fortnite has genuine staying power – probably not if we’re being honest – but for the moment, Epic’s battle royale is the king of the hill.