ProductManiacs: Fortnite

I intend to open with this article a series where I will highlight certain aspects of product management with actual examples. When I considered this series, I thought of the typical examples used in the PM: Apple, Under Armour, Tesla, Inditex… and I was thinking of them when my children interrupted me by talking about a game that, in plain language, was “killing it”.

It was Fortnite and I, of course, had not heard of it until that moment and did not suspect that, from that moment on, it would be like another member of the family.

If you have children between 7 and 18, you’ll already know what the game is about: 100 players are on an island and only one can survive. It is played online and is highly addictive. The truth is that, like the Pokemon Go phenomenon a few years ago, I am very interested in understanding the reason for these trends, as I am of the opinion that luck cannot explain everything.

The video game industry is hyper-competitive and most of the products being launched have a short lifecycle. That is why it is essential, apart from having a good product, to achieve notoriety in the launch, as well as to build a solid base of loyal players. Let’s analyze how Fortnite has focused on some key aspects for the success of its product:

  • Know your target customer: design the product to position it where your target customer is. In the case of Fortnite, its target client is the player between the ages of 7 and 18 who plays socially. With this in mind, the design decisions had to be consistent:
  • Free game: for fast growth in a segment without high purchasing power.
  • Micropayment income: the customization of roles costs small amounts of money that are acceptable to customers and at the same time are addictive.
  • Social interaction-oriented gameplay: team modes, multiplatform, etc.
  • Take care of your client and especially your prescribers: there is a curious element in this phenomenon: the star youtubers. Kids like Ninja or Lolito are real celebrities on the Internet and their games are watched by millions of people. Fortnite cares for these prescribers and is very sensitive to their feedback as it is an excellent channel of visibility.

The decision to launch the game for free is particularly bold and risky as it relies on microtransactions for all income. But at the same time it ensures an exponential growth of your player base, so if the game is addictive, a virtuous circle is generated. And so far it looks like it’s being quite a success.

We’ll see if the Fortnite phenomenon is as ephemeral as the one in Pokemon Go, but I dare to predict that we’ll have Fortnite for a while. My impression is that the Epic guys behind this game have everything well planned and we’re only at the first stage of their product plan (expansion phase) and we’ll see more twists and turns in the next few years to get the most out of their base of loyal players.