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What Fortnite’s Battle Pass gets right

You don’t need loot boxes to be popular

Clayton Ashley , senior video editor, has been producing and editing videos for Polygon since 2016. He is the lead producer of the tabletop gaming series Overboard.

Few games have had the staggering success of Fortnite. Taking a quirky co-op genre blender to the most popular battle royale game on Earth, developer Epic Games has obviously done a lot of things right. That success doesn’t just come from excellent game design; it comes from avoiding something typical of free-to-play games — anti-consumer monetization strategies. In fact, the game’s method of monetization doesn’t just not suck. Among free-to-play multiplayer shooters, Fortnite’s Battle Pass is the best form of monetization ever.

The main reason the Battle Pass feels like such a consumer-friendly way of monetizing the game is that it doesn’t rely on loot boxes: You know exactly what cosmetic items you’ll receive from the very start. And everything you get is based on playing the game, not rolling some dice. Completing Battle Pass challenges also trains you to play better by encouraging you to use different weapons and explore every nook and cranny of the map.

I do want to specify that I think Fortnite’s Battle Pass is an excellent monetization scheme for shooters, which have, for the most part, moved toward a random loot box scheme. Many MMOs and MOBAs have their own methods of monetization. Dota 2 even had the Battle Pass idea first, giving players extra game modes and exclusive cosmetic items for completing specific challenges.

However, it also relies on a lot of random elements, including prize wheels and wagering on the outcome of matches. In addition, part of the cost of each Dota 2 Battle Pass goes into a competitive prize pool — which is a cool idea for those inclined to compete, but probably not something the average consumer will see a benefit from. Not every Dota 2 competition has a Battle Pass, either, which means that unlike in Fortnite, you can’t buy one at any time, though Valve is adding a monthly subscription service with similar features.

Either way, it’s only a good thing that more publishers are finding ways to monetize their games that don’t rely on the completely random loot box. Watch the video above for more on our thoughts about Fortnite’s Battle Pass.

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