Fortnite is a free game that is kept alive thanks to microtransactions. Many similar games encourage players to spend real money not only by offering cosmetic upgrades, but also by giving paying players an advantage over those who play for free.
The question then has to be asked whether Fortnite pays to win.
What Does Pay to Win Mean?
The term “pay to win” is widespread online, but there isn’t always a good definition of what it really means. For the purposes of this argument, “pay to win” is probably best defined as exactly what it sounds like.
A game that makes it easier for players to win when they pay real money to play. Virtually all games involving microtransactions can be accused of “paying to win” to some degree.
So it is worth doing at least a small exam here.
What we’re going to look at here isn’t just whether paying real money (or, in this case, buying V Coins) automatically allows a player to win. Instead, we’re going to find out if paying with real money really gives players an advantage in Fortnite.
If paying money gives players an advantage, when they have to decide whether the advantage is such that players who do not pay real money are not disadvantaged by the current microtransaction model.
The Fortnite Model of Microtransactions
There are dozens of different microtransaction models, but Fortnite tends to be one of the least impactful in the game. While there are several things you can pay for in Fortnite, none of them are meant to have a real impact on how the game works.
After all, the only items you can buy in Fortnite are cosmetics. You’re looking at skins and emotes, as well as a variety of other miscellaneous items that players can spend their hard-earned V-Bucks on.
The key to Fortnite’s microtransaction model is the extent to which the game makes the real money store seem completely optional. Purely objectively speaking, there is basically no reason to spend a dime on Fortnite.
After all, you get the same kind of gaming experience, no matter what skin you wear. And the balance issues in the game revolve around things that can be found for free in the game world.
When you buy something in Fortnite, it’s because you want to improve your experience in a way that only affects your enjoyment of the game.
Whether this is good for the players or even for morale is of course not judged here. But it’s important to think about how exactly this store should work.
Arguments in Favor for ‘Fortnite is a Pay to Win’
If you spend enough time online, you’ll see arguments that Fortnite is pay-to-win. If you brush off the bad faith arguments, you’ll end up with a few that seem to have some logic behind them.
However, the fact that there is some logic does not mean that those making the arguments are necessarily right.
The more concrete arguments about the game being pay-to-win center around a small handful of skins and wraps. The color schemes here give a very small advantage to players using them, as they fit in quite nicely with the background of the game.
These skins are rare and won’t make much of a difference to most players, but it can be argued that a split-second delay in identifying an enemy can make all the difference at high-level gameplay.
There is also a common argument about the intimidation factor of seeing a player with great skin. The theory goes that seeing a player with a paid aspect takes free players out of their game and makes it easier for the paying player to kill.
Of course, there isn’t much concrete evidence to support this. But the argument is rather repeated by those who believe that buying V-bucks gives certain players an advantage in the game.
Arguments Against for ‘Fortnite is a Pay to Win’
The main argument against Fortnite being a pay-to-win game really comes down to intent. While there are skins that blend well and skins that can hit areas that are slightly smaller than average, these seem like bugs rather than features.
Epic definitely wants people to spend money on the game, but they want people to keep spending money. And that means not making skins or wraps that are so affordable that players stop buying the cool new releases.
There’s also the fact that there’s no real evidence that things like the bullying factor have an impact. There are many games where Victory Royale goes for someone with a default skin and many players with “preferred” skins that will never make it past the Top Ten.
There just isn’t enough discernible impact when it comes to microtransactions to say they have a real impact on the game.
It is an exaggeration to say that Fortnite is a pay-to-win game. While there may be a limited number of skins that give players a small advantage, they have had no real impact on the way the game is played.
As things stand, there’s a lot to criticize about microtransactions, but influencing who wins and who loses isn’t one of them.