Fortnite is a free game that prints money, and one of its primary methods for doing so is its seasonal Battle Pass. For a price that may as well be $10 (since you can only buy v-bucks in $10 increments), players receive 100 “tiers” worth of costumes, dances, backpacks, and other goods, which are then unlocked by playing Fortnite Battle Royale and “leveling” the Battle Pass.
The Battle Pass only lasts as long as the current Fortnite season does, however, which is usually about 10 to 12 weeks. And if you haven’t unlocked everything you were hoping to by the time the season ends, your chance is gone forever. Everything contained within a Battle Pass is exclusive to that Battle Pass, meaning that the dance or costume you’re leveling towards will never again be available, should you miss this one opportunity.
So! If you bought the Battle Pass specifically to get a costume that doesn’t unlock until tier 69, you’d better be ready to grind. And grind I did! In leveling up my Season 7 Battle Pass, I’ve learned a few important lessons about Fortnite, free-to-play monetization strategies, and myself.
Lesson #1: Takes Longer Than You’d Think
Let’s get this out of the way right now: I didn’t level my Battle Pass all the way up to tier 100. I don’t think I realistically could have either, not without significantly restructuring my daily routine. I write for two different websites and have more games than just Fortnite to play, both for work and myself, and it turns out that my lifestyle isn’t what the Battle Pass was designed for. Fortnite has to be your main game to unlock everything in the Battle Pass. You don’t have to play all day, but you do have to play every day, because those Daily Challenges are integral to finishing the Pass. This leads me to our next lesson:
Lesson #2: Weekly Challenges Ain’t Enough
Owning a Battle Pass unlocks four special Weekly Challenges, every week, for the first 10 weeks of the Season. You earn Battle Stars by completing those challenges, and for every 10 Battle Stars you earn, your Battle Pass levels up by one tier. But wait! There are also three free Weekly Challenges each week, which means that Battle Pass owners have a total of 70 Weekly Challenges to complete over the life of the Battle Pass.
Those 70 challenges only work out to 50 to 55 levels on your Battle Pass, however, because of the way Battle Stars are allocated. And to earn the maximum of 55, you also have to go find all the secret Hidden Tiers that populate on the map after you’ve completed all seven challenges during an odd-numbered week. It’s a very simple system that is extremely easy to understand, and is in no way needlessly convoluted.
Depending on the week, you might be looking at as much as six hours worth of playtime to finish those seven challenges, but even a conservative estimate of three hours per week still adds up to 30 hours over the life of the Battle Pass. Thirty hours that will only get you halfway to tier 100 and its exclusive outfit.
The rest of those levels have to come from Daily Challenges, of which you are given three a day, which works out to 15 Battle Stars, or one and a half Battle Pass tiers. In order to earn the other 45 tiers remaining on the Battle Pass, you must complete 30 days worth of Daily Challenges, which adds about 2 hours a day to our earlier calculation of 30 hours total. This brings the full time commitment required to max out a Battle Pass up to somewhere in the 50 hour range, minimum. And I hope you’ve got some friends who are as into Fortnite as you are, because a huge percentage of those Daily Challenges require high placements in Squads or Duos.
Lesson #3: It’s Not Fun
Fifty hours of “content” for $10 sounds like a great proposition, but it didn’t work out that way for me. Most challenges are a chore to finish (“Destroy 80 chairs,” Epic? Really? For one Battle Star??), and they don’t add anything interesting or compelling to the Fortnite Battle Royale formula. It’s just work, which Epic is forcing me to do in order to “earn” something that I’ve already paid for.
I found myself playing Fortnite even when I didn’t feel like it, because I knew the Beef Boss Onesie wasn’t going to unlock itself, and if I didn’t get the one thing I bought the Battle Pass for, that money would have been wasted. I finished every Weekly Challenge and several days worth of Daily Challenges, and even took to grinding out regular match XP when that was finished, and still found myself 10 tiers short of unlocking my costume. So what did I do? How could I square up the value of all this time and energy against what I received for it?
Lesson #4: It’s Designed to Make You Spend More Money
In the end, I gave Epic another $10, which gave me enough v-bucks to directly purchase Battle Pass tiers. This is an option that Epic enables at the end of a Season, so that dupes like me will double the amount of money they spent on the Pass in order to get the one thing they wanted out of it.
Because Epic knows exactly how this thing is designed, and it knows that most people out there don’t make Fortnite their full-time hobby. And since Fortnite isn’t their one and only love, they don’t fully comprehend how enormous of an investment it actually is to get what what you paid for out of a Battle Pass.
If you’re out there and you’re playing Fortnite six hours a day anyway, sure, a Battle Pass is probably a great return on the enormous investment you’re already making in that game. But if you’re a person who works full time and has hobbies beyond Fortnite, the value that you’re getting out of a Battle Pass is basically negative. Not only are you in the hole $10 (or more, in my case), but you’ve also paid Epic a not-insignificant portion of your life. Your time is hugely more valuable than a set of virtual pajamas, and so is mine, and that’s the final thing I learned over the last 12 weeks:
Lesson #5: I’ll Never Battle Pass Again
Don’t live like me, all right?