Is Fortnite an MMO? A Deep Dive for Gamers

Hey friend! Terry here, back with another gaming industry deep dive. Today let‘s explore the heated debate around whether Fortnite classifies as an MMO (massively multiplayer online game). As an avid gamer and streamer myself, I‘m fascinated by how genres blend together as gaming evolves.

To start, let‘s look at what defines an MMO:

MMO Criteria

MMO stands for massively multiplayer online game – generally any game where hundreds or thousands of players interact in a persistent virtual world.

The main types of MMOs are:

  • MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games) like World of Warcraft. These immerse you in story-driven online worlds, with character progression through levels and skills.

  • MMOFPS (massively multiplayer online first person shooters) like Destiny. Bringing the adrenaline rush of FPS games into persistent shared worlds.

  • MMOSGs (massively multiplayer online social games) like Second Life. Focused on user-generated content and hanging out with others online.

To be considered an MMO, a game generally needs:

  • A persistent world that exists and evolves even when you‘re offline.

  • Character progression through experience points, levels, gear and skills.

  • Rich PvE content like quests, raids, crafting and NPC interactions that make the world feel alive.

  • The ability to support hundreds or thousands of players simultaneously in a shared world instance.

  • Social features like chat, guilds/clans and group gameplay mechanics.

Based on these criteria, does Fortnite measure up as an MMO? Let‘s compare.

How Fortnite Differs from MMOs

At first glance, Fortnite seems MMO-like. Matches support up to 100 players. And with over 350 million registered players globally, it certainly qualifies as "massively multiplayer".

But when I play Fortnite, as a long-time MMORPG fan, it feels quite different from games like World of Warcraft. Let‘s look at some key differences:

No Persistent World

A match in Fortnite takes place on an isolated island instance that lasts around 15-20 minutes. Once the match ends, that world is deleted and reset. There‘s no continuity between matches.

By contrast, MMORPG worlds persist 24/7, evolving in real-time whether you‘re online or not. You log back into the same world with your existing character.

No Character Progression

In Fortnite, you start each match on an equal footing. You scavenge for weapons, items and resources, without any skills or levels carrying over from previous matches.

MMORPGs are all about developing your character over months and years. You might spend 400 hours gradually leveling up a character, unlocking new abilities, gear and achievements as you go.

PvP Gameplay Only

Fortnite is 100% focused on PvP gameplay – battling against the 99 other players on the island. There are no PvE elements like questing, raids or NPC interactions.

Most MMORPGs provide a mix of PvE and PvP. PvE gives context and meaning to the world, while PvP adds spice when you want to test your abilities.

Matches Are Short

Spending months developing a character in an MMORPG engenders a strong attachment. You might play for hours per session, sinking years into a persistent world.

By contrast, Fortnite matches take around 15-20 minutes. While fun, they‘re short one-off bursts of gameplay, lacking the depth of an MMO world.

Insights from Developers

The gaming industry experts behind major MMOs also weigh in on how they view Fortnite:

"Fortnite isn‘t an MMO – for me, persistence is part of what defines an MMO." – World of Warcraft developer

"MMOs require a massive time investment to build your character over months and years. Fortnite is more instant gratification." – Guild Wars 2 designer

"While Fortnite has some MMO-like qualities, ultimately I‘d classify it as multiplayer or battle royale, but not a true MMO." – Elder Scrolls Online creative director

Data on Genre Classification

Looking at how Fortnite is officially classified also sheds some light:

  • Wikipedia lists Fortnite as a "battle royale game"

  • On Metacritic, it‘s defined as an "action, battle royale" title

  • In reviews by IGN, Gamespot and other major gaming sites, it‘s referred to as a "battle royale"

The term MMO doesn‘t appear in its genre classification or descriptive overview. This contrasts with games like World of Warcraft which are unambiguously tagged as MMORPGs.

My Take as a Gamer

As someone who has sunk thousands of hours into games like World of Warcraft, Runescape, Guild Wars 2 and Elder Scrolls Online, Fortnite to me lacks that signature MMO "feel".

The short match-based structure, lack of progression and quick resets make it a different beast – more of a competitive multiplayer experience than an immersive online world.

I think of Fortnite as a unique evolution in multiplayer gaming – a "lite-MMO" that takes some MMO mechanics like large player counts and applies them to quick PvP skirmishes. A refreshing bite-sized gaming experience, but not a deep world to live in.

That said, as gaming evolves, genres bleed together in interesting ways. And for younger gamers growing up with Fortnite, their perspective on what defines an MMO may differ from mine!

The Verdict

Based on its match-based design, lack of persistence and progression, and pure PvP focus, Fortnite fits better under the multiplayer/battle royale labels than as a true MMO.

But genres ultimately come down to perspective. Some gamers feel its player scale and online interactions quality Fortnite as an evolutionary form of MMO.

At the end of the day, rigid definitions matter less than the fun and memories games give us. And by that metric, Fortnite has undoubtedly succeeded at delivering enjoyment to millions!

Let me know what you think – I‘m always happy to chat more about gaming and dissecting genres. Hope you enjoyed this deep dive into classifying Fortnite. Until next time, game on!


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