Fortnite is a free-to-play game, and so it is to be assumed that the vast majority of players are not spending a dime. Epic has a kind of a hybrid system in place, however, where it provides the players the opportunity to spend a bit of money every once in a while in order to obtain access to some of the more sought-after cosmetics of the game. Players could purchase what is called a Battle Pass for 10 dollars, and lasts throughout the course of a ten-week season. It unlocks some of the cosmetics on purchase, but each of the good stuff takes work to collect – the players have to level it up through gameplay and completing challenges in order to level up the pass, unlocking new items as they go, overlaying a progression system onto a game that does not have one otherwise. Of course, one could pay to move things along a little bit, as well.

So that is the next tier of the paying players: those that do not purchase one-off items but instead purchase the Battle Pass at the starting of each season. It is an introductory purchase, designed to entice the players less inclined to spend 25 dollars on a clean-looking skin with a matching glider. But seeing as this is an introductory buy, the purpose is transparent, that is, to get the players used to the idea of spending in-game money and then might be ease them along a little bit towards agreeing to spend more. Paying to unlock the Battle Pass tiers is a way that the game does this: if one is ten tiers short with a day to go in Season 3 it could be bet upon that he would shell out some extra money to close the things out. However, items such as this Space Shuttle Glider, are another.

The present Battle Pass is basically space themed, which means that a bunch of the items the players would be unlocking are importantly variations on an astronaut. When the people initially looked at the loot on offer, however, they were struck by the lack of a glider — there were gliders to unlock, of course, but not a thing that seemed like it was meant to fit in with the available skins and this is obviously as to why, Epic wants players to become invested in the game to the point where they are proud of the Moonwalker Skin they have unlocked, not to mention the matching Back Bling and harvesting tool.

That is the real meta-game of the Fortnite, and it is fascinating to watch, particularly as Epic is doing an excellent job at it. It is a careful, multi-tiered dance, which involves both making the game complete and also satisfying for the free-to-play players while at the same time psychologically shepherding them along towards paying more and more money for a snazzier version of similar experience. Also given the present industry climate, it is also satisfying to see it deftly done without the randomized loot boxes.