Fortnite Season 6 pets 'could expand game's audience'

Fortnite pets Image copyright Epic Games

The introduction of three pets to the Fortnite game are not an attempt to squeeze more cash out of players, says one expert.

Instead IHS analyst Piers Harding-Rolls believes the goal is to attract more female youngsters to the title.

The three pets - a dog, chameleon and dragon - were unveiled as part of Season 6 of the massively popular game.

Players who buy a Battle Pass for 950 Fortnite's V-Bucks (£8) get the pets as part of the bundle.

"I don't see this as a money grab as it's a cosmetic upgrade and optional, the same as all upgrades offered in Fortnite," Mr Harding-Rolls told the BBC.

"Pets are a natural fit with the younger audience of the game and may entice more girls to play," he said, adding that most players of the survival title are male.

Epic Games, which created Fortnite, may be looking to the pets to diversify that audience as it looks to keep the game relevant, he said.

"The way Epic has implemented pets - sitting in the backpack - offers another route to engage the user through an emotional connection without complicating the experience," said Mr Harding-Rolls.

However, some gamers have challenged the idea that the pets would have any more appeal to young women than young men.

Elena Fedina, associate director of research at analyst firm SuperData there was no doubt that the pets would prompt players to buy the Battle Pass.

In the past, she said, popular cosmetic items had caused a significant spike in revenues adding that one of the "memorable" was the $20 (£15) Raven skin. That proved so compelling that Epic had to apologise for the issues it had processing payments for it.

"There was a 25% increase in players after the skins were introduced and a 33% month over month increase in revenue," said Ms Fedina.

Image copyright Blizzard
Image caption Pets have proved hugely popular in games such as World of Warcraft

School run

Season 6 of Fortnite, subtitled Darkness Rises, started on 27 September and introduced several other changes which include new "skins" for players, invisibility power-ups and alterations to the main game map.

Much of the attention in Fortnite's new season was grabbed by the introduction of the pets, with many on social media pledging to buy a pass so they could get one of the digital creatures. The pets stay with players even if they are eliminated and "rezzed" out of a match.

Image copyright Twitter

Everything did not go smoothly on launch day for Epic, which had to apologise for a brief problem with the processing of V-Bucks payments.

The game also attracted comment on social media, with the York Regional Police in Ontario urging people to be careful on the roads. It said the launch had meant many people left late for school and it asked them to avoid speeding to reach their destination.

Parent Heather Busseri in the US noted that her child went to school wearing two different shoes and blamed Fortnite for the mistake.

Others also commented on social media about how keen youngsters were to experience the new season.

Fortnite is regularly played by more than 75 million people around the world and is the most viewed game on streaming site Twitch.

One estimate suggested that Epic was making more than $100m (£76m) a month from the game.

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