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Fortnite is following the Facebook playbook

Fortnite’s new game mode isn’t particularly novel, but its very existence gets at the Epic Games’ Silicon Valley-sized ambition.

The mode is called The Spy Within, and it isn’t hard to see the similarities it has to Among Us, a 2-year-old game that found immense success in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortnite’s success is built on taking popular or promising ideas and improving them. Its battle royale mode, now the core of the game, originally seemed so similar to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds that developer Bluehole (now called PUBG Studio) attempted to sue Epic over the concept. However, Bluehole didn’t own any exclusive claim over the mode.

Tech company founders get praised and mythologized for using these tactics. Steve Jobs didn’t make the first smartphone; he just made the first one that people wanted to buy. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t invent social media, either. He made the site that helped the concept catch fire.

Fortnite chapter 2 season 5 artwork

Image: Epic Games

And like modern tech companies, Epic continues to absorb popular trends to help its product evolve, over and over again.

Shortly after EA released battle royale competitor Apex Legends in 2019, Epic updated Fortnite to include similar ping and respawn systems, albeit in a slightly cleaner fashion. The move was reminiscent of Facebook cribbing Stories from Instagram (a platform it now owns), Instagram’s Stories feature itself imitating Snapchat, and Apple throwing Android-style widgets on the iPhone’s home screen.

Like a Silicon Valley behemoth, Fortnite can pick up features and modes from other games quickly and smoothly thanks to a massive team, a pool of resources, and one of the largest player bases in the market.

It’s all about time

This year, Epic found success applying this strategy beyond games.

Just like Facebook acquiring WhatsApp and Instagram, Fortnite wants to be the…