The ongoing battle between Fortnite's dueling communities has a new front: the in-game currency known as "V-Bucks."
While Fortnite might be more recognized for its PvP Battle Royale mode, it's actually just one mode of a single game alongside the original PvE mode known as 'Save the World.' As such, the two modes share a game client, as well an in-game currency called V-Bucks. While V-Bucks can be purchased for money, it can also be earned in PvE, leading some PvP players to use this shared economy to their advantage, farming PvE games to earn V-Bucks to spend again in PvP. And it's causing some problems.
Like a lot of games these days, Fortnite features a loot system where players can grind and earn in-game currency to purchase various loot, or buy in-game currency using real money for faster access. There's no way to "earn" V-Bucks in Battle Royale. Instead Epic has a system utilizing season passes that Battle Royale players can purchase to earn exclusive content. But Battle Royale players can still just buy V-Bucks to purchase cosmetics from from the store too if they're strapped for time.
That's where the Save the World mode comes in. For PvE players, a small amount of V-Bucks are awarded on a semi-regular basis. Yet thanks to Fortnite's shared V-Bucks economy, Battle Royale players are choosing to grind out V-Bucks in Save the World to then spend elsewhere, which is creating further rifts in the already split community.
Save the World players feel their preferred mode keeps getting flooded with fairweather players who have no vested interest in the wider mechanics of PvE. Instead, they are just using Save the World to scrape and save V-Bucks earned in daily logins or quests. Players who are away from their keyboards and players who can't commit to the rigors of co-op play are problematic because the game is heavily reliant on working together.
There are even guides, subreddit threads, and whole websites dedicated to teaching Battle Royale players how to earn free V-Bucks from farming the PvE Save the World mode, like freethevbucks.com.
Even then it's not particularly easy to farm V-Bucks in Save the World. One user who messaged us says that, "it's a pain to grind out V-Bucks in [Save the World]. You earn 100 or less V-Bucks per quest and only certain quests give out V-Bucks as a reward. I have made a little under 3K V-Bucks in about a month." Since skins in Battle Royale cost anywhere from about 800 to 2,000 V-Bucks (1,000 V-Bucks retails for $9.99) that's about one or two skins a month.
For some Battle Royale players, it's apparently preferable to just spend $20 on V-Bucks than play a cooperative game mode. One thread in the Fortnite Battle Royale subreddit thread simply titled "Don't buy Save the World just to farm [V-Bucks]" warns some players to stay away. "If you can't enjoy a cooperative game about building stuff and waking zombies, don't buy it... Just spend [$20] on V-Bucks."
If players treated the two modes as part of the same game and played both in earnest, this might not be a problem. But there's clearly a divide between the two modes and how the players treat the other game mode. As a result we get PvP players outright dismissing the PvE mode as just a source for V-Bucks. Even then, there are those with so little interest that they'd rather just spend real-money to purchase their desired skins than play Save the World.
In a message through Reddit, a Battle Royale player tells USgamer, "I would say that for members of the community who play both modes, it's probably common to log on to [Save the World], do your daily quest for the V-Bucks, and then switch over to [Battle Royale]."
"I'll admit that now a big part of my motivation for playing [Save the World] is earning those V-Bucks that I can use for cosmetics in PvP," another Redditor says when asked why they still play PvE.
The farming aspects of the game add fuel to calls that the two modes should be separate games altogether, with separate game clients, and maybe even currencies. A thread, this time on the PvE Fortnite subreddit, calls for this exact thing in Battle Royale and Save the World in order to discourage farming and "leeching" behavior out of fear that the latter is just a farming ground for V-Bucks. But that doesn't seem likely as this shared V-Bucks economy most likely works in Epic's favor.
By having a way to farm V-Bucks in one mode but not the other, it's likely that Battle Royale players who get to play the PvP mode for free will be tempted to purchase a paid copy of the Save the World game, keeping both modes busy with daily logins and players, even if it's just to help one group of players purchase outfits and cosmetics.
The most optimistic outcome of the shared V-Bucks economy is getting the two camps of players to play the other mode regularly and properly, the likely ideal scenario here. And in-between the more extreme sides of the divide are players who mainly play Save the World, but choose to spend their V-Bucks in Battle Royale, or Battle Royale players that commit to Save the World matches in earnest.
We reached out to Epic Games to ask what the developer's plans are for V-Bucks once Save the World does go free-to-play, but the company declined to comment.
What's clear though is that the schism between Battle Royale and Save the World players hasn't healed in recent months. The Fortnite Save the World and Battle Royale community have already split their subreddits, and some hardcore players are demanding that the game modes themselves be split from one another entirely.
A lot of that stems from resentment that Save the World has been put on the backburner so that primary focus can shift to Battle Royale, a mode that launched for free whereas Save the World was sold under a complicated and potentially expensive early access buy-in. When Save the World does eventually become free-to-play, there is also the fear that the mode will be completely relegated as a V-Bucks farming ground for the much larger Battle Royale playerbase lest changes are made.
Since Battle Royale and Save the World are actually just two modes for the same basic game, this relationship where one side benefits off the other feels potentially dangerous. Hopefully the V-Bucks system will eventually be balanced so that Fortnite players can share in an economy that helps both game modes grow, or it risks creating a system where one mode leeches off the other.
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