Fortnite Microtransactions a Rip off?

Fortnite is huge right now. No matter where you’ll look, you’ll see it. Watching the World Cup Final? Griezmann has scored a penalty and is doing a Fortnite dance. Watching television before work? There’s a mother on chatting about how the game is changing her son’s personality.

With news recently breaking that the game has surpassed $1 billion through in game purchases, I decided to look at the actual value of what you can buy and what Epic are offering.


Student Loan company LendEdu conducted a survey that revealed that average Fortnite player was spending a whopping $84.67. For 36.78% of those surveyed, this was the first time they had ever spent money on micro transactions. Another fun tidbit is that 35.12% of players said they had skipped school in order to play Fortnite. 14.58% even admitting to skipping a lot of school. Maybe parents should be concerned?

Different conversation for a different day but an interesting one! The final fact is that 58.9% of players who have spent money in game have purchased cosmetics. This means that the majority of people are spending out with the Battle Pass which unlocks seasonal rewards.

What Can I Buy?

Every couple of months in Fortnite, a new season starts. That season brings a Battle Pass which you can purchase for 950 V-Bucks, around £8/$10. Within this you unlock loads of items, from 1500 more V-Bucks to multiple skins and emotes. You get way over 100 rewards if you complete the pass and it really is unbelievable value for money. Considering the title is free to play, Epic have done a great job of making this hook worth the player investment. Outside of the Battle Pass you have the Store. Every day the items for sale change and every two days the featured items rotate. What’s on offer ranges from skins to pickaxes to gliders and more.

Fortnite Shopping for value
Fortnite Shopping for value

This is where Fortnite moves into shady territory. As you can see everything is color coded. The order from rare to common is: Orange, Purple, Blue, Green and Grey. This rarity impacts the value of the item. As the image shows the Legendary orange skin Magnus is available for 2000 V-Bucks. The cheapest way to get that amount with real life money? £16. Even completing the whole Battle Pass wouldn’t unlock that amount. Therefore, to buy one skin from the store, you’d be £16 out of pocket. Throw in the Forebear pickaxe to complete the set and you’re out £20 provided you buy the V-Bucks pack that gives you a bonus 300. So that’s one skin. What if you were a collector and wanted them all? There are:

Orange: 22 skins = 44,000 V-Bucks
Purple: 41 skins = 61,500 V-Bucks
Blue: 38 skins = 45,600 V-Bucks
Green: 24 skins = 19,200 V-Bucks

The total? 170,300 V-Bucks. How much is that in real money? £1003.

In order to own every single skin, not including pickaxes, parachutes, emotes and backpacks you need to go into four figures. Now, of course this isn’t how the majority of players think. It’s a tiny minority that’ll go that far. But consider who plays Fortnite… A lot of children/young adults. These consumers always want more. They are easily convinced to purchase. The Fortnite pricing model is of terrible value to players. Let’s compare it to another free to play title: Warframe. To buy an extra character in this game; which is actually unlockable through gameplay and opens up new gameplay options, costs $12 without any bulk currency discounts. Cheaper than a cosmetic Fortnite skin. If I wanted to buy the Morrowind DLC in Elder Scrolls Online using in game currency what would it set me back? £19.78 or about $25. For a huge expansion adding a full new area.

Morrowmind DLC Elder Scrolls
Morrowmind DLC Elder Scrolls

There’s no doubt when you compare that Fortnite Battle Royale’s in game story is a total rip off. The items are intentionally over inflated in price in order to lure in collectors. The reason the items are rotated is to space player’s costs as much as possible in order to make the purchases feel justifiable. Epic Games clearly knows its audience is willing to spend extravagant amounts on the title and taking advantage of that is well within their rights as a business. However it feels like they could offer much more value. Especially as these items are purely cosmetic and likely don’t require high development costs in any way unlike having to change game play to include new areas, objects or environments. I’m not for a second suggesting pay to win should be introduced. I’m suggesting that for £16, you should at least get a full outfit, glider, pickaxe, skin and some sort of related emote. If not a pack of skins for that price.

Fortnite will continue to be immensely successful. I’ll even continue to play and showcase gameplay right here (see the included video, I’m very bad). But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things Epic could and should be doing better. £16 for a costume? You can get Bloodborne for less than that.

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