Fortnite's Popularity Explained by Psychology

October 9, 2018

We take a dive into some possible psychological reasons why Fortnite is the most popular game in the world.


MALE_1: This is Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

MALE_1: Psychologist Abraham Maslow developed it

MALE_1: as a way to diagram human motivations.

MALE_1: Basically, it explains what

MALE_1: gets us out of bed in the morning,

MALE_1: but it also might explain why

MALE_1: Fortnite is the most popular video game right now.


MALE_1: Maslow's hierarchy has five tiers,

MALE_1: going from the most basic needs at

MALE_1: the bottom all the way to

MALE_1: the most complex needs at the top.

MALE_1: Many video games, not deliberately,

MALE_1: but effectively are actually

MALE_1: a good virtual manifestation of how these needs can

MALE_1: be addressed and Fortnite might be

MALE_1: the first game to address them all really well.

MALE_1: The hierarchy works like power ups of motivation,

MALE_1: once you fulfill a need on one tier and power up,

MALE_1: you can climb to the next until you

MALE_1: reach the top, self-actualization.

MALE_1: Self-actualization is a person

MALE_1: reaching his or her full potential.

MALE_1: Think of it as overcoming the gap between

MALE_1: who you are and who you want to be.

MALE_1: Self-actualization is different for everyone.

MALE_1: It could be a composer completing a musical masterpiece,

MALE_1: or a doctor finding the cure for a terminal illness,

MALE_1: or someone claiming

MALE_1: their first victory royale in Fortnite.

MALE_2: Yes. Yes. Yes [NOISE].

MALE_1: Fortnite Battle Royale is

MALE_1: the most streamed game on

MALE_1: twitch, it's incredibly popular.

MALE_1: But, how does it make people feel like this?


MALE_1: It might be because every match in

MALE_1: Fortnite is an opportunity to self actualize.


MALE_1: Fortnite belongs to the wildly

MALE_1: popular Battle Royale game type.

MALE_1: The premise of Battle Royale is simple,

MALE_1: individuals are stranded on an island with

MALE_1: limited resources and the goal

MALE_1: is to outsurvive everyone else.

MALE_1: The genre had a breakthrough in

MALE_1: 2000 with the Japanese cold film

MALE_1: Battle Royale and then went mainstream

MALE_1: with the Hunger Games franchise in 2012.

MALE_1: Battle Royale is simple,

MALE_1: but rife with danger and drama and interestingly,

MALE_1: it also presents a scenario in which

MALE_1: all five tiers of Maslow's hierarchy

MALE_1: play a critical role in winning [NOISE].

MALE_1: Video games have become better and

MALE_1: better at playing out our psychological needs.

MALE_1: The graphics in gameplay may have advanced,

MALE_1: but the needs they address are still pretty simple.

MALE_1: Your physiological needs can be

MALE_1: fulfilled by interacting with your video game world.

MALE_1: You have to move and explore to collect resources.

MALE_1: You also have to move to survive,

MALE_1: to run away from the bad guys or attack your enemies.

MALE_1: But also, we need to form alliances in order to win,

MALE_1: two player modes were cooperative

MALE_1: play satisfies that pretty well.

MALE_1: More players means more competition.

MALE_1: Online gaming creates an audience and

MALE_1: tournaments and e-sports can make you a superstar.

MALE_1: But, self-actualization has been

MALE_1: a tougher nut to crack in games.

MALE_1: The four lower motivations are called deficiency needs.

MALE_1: Those needs disappear once they've been satisfied,

MALE_1: but self-actualization is a growth need,

MALE_1: so it doesn't ever go away and you

MALE_1: actually feel it more intensely once it's been met.

MALE_1: Self-actualization was breached with open world games.

MALE_1: Open world introduce the element of choice,

MALE_1: gameplay was no longer linear,

MALE_1: so you could choose how to get from point A to Point B.

MALE_1: Customizing your character and choosing

MALE_1: your path through the game made it uniquely

MALE_1: your experience and the game's objectives

MALE_1: came to feel more like your own.

MALE_1: Those objectives get internalized and the game becomes

MALE_1: a personal journey toward success which is

MALE_1: exactly what self-actualization is all about.

MALE_1: Fortnite Battle Royale is so unique because

MALE_1: every match is an opportunity to self-actualize.

MALE_1: From the beginning you choose

MALE_1: where to land on the island,

MALE_1: which supplies your need and how to conquer the gameplay.

MALE_1: It blends the genres of first person shooters,

MALE_1: real time strategy and sandbox games,

MALE_1: but you aren't limited by

MALE_1: a pre-determined path to victory,

MALE_1: but it's hard and you're going to die a lot.


MALE_1: Winning a build off is as

MALE_1: much of an art as it is a science.

MALE_1: But, winning always feels possible in Fortnite,

MALE_1: even when you've lost countless times before,

MALE_1: because of the multiple ways players can choose to play.

MALE_1: So, you start a new match with

MALE_1: a completely clean slate and

MALE_1: a new set of obstacles and possibilities,

MALE_1: because you know, next time you overcome them.

MALE_1: In Fortnite, you're constantly striving

MALE_1: to become the player you know you can be.

MALE_1: When you do win that victory can feel uniquely

MALE_1: yours and original epic musical score,

MALE_1: only you could have composed.


MALE_1: This doesn't mean that Fortnite is the end

MALE_1: all be all of video games,

MALE_1: but it is uniquely structured to give and give,

MALE_1: satisfying players most complex needs at least for now.

MALE_1: But, it can't give you everything you need,

MALE_1: I mean Fortnite's never going to love you back [MUSIC].

MALE_1: Can Fortnite be stopped?

MALE_1: Let us know what you think. Comment below and like

MALE_1: and subscribe for more Cheddar deep dives and breakdowns.