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The Ultimate Guide to Free vs Paid Fortnite: Gameplay, V-Bucks, Battle Pass Perks, and More

The Key Differences Summarized

Hey friend, as a fellow Fortnite fanatic, I know one of the first big questions is: should you play for free or pay for extras?

Well, here‘s the short answer:

Free Fortnite gives you full access to Battle Royale gameplay – no content is locked. You can compete, win crowns, and enjoy hundreds of hours of matches without spending a dime.

However, paying unlocks cosmetics like skins, emotes, and gliders for personalizing your character. It also grants Battle Pass rewards and around 1500 earnable V-Bucks per season.

So free provides the full core experience, while paid gives you more customization options and cosmetic swag. Let‘s dive deeper!

Playing Battle Royale 100% Free

The amazing thing about Fortnite is that anyone can download and play the main Battle Royale mode for free on PC, consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and even Android mobile devices.

You get complete access to Battle Royale maps, weapons, building mechanics, matchmaking, and all gameplay content updates. Free players can:

  • Explore the entire island and constantly evolving POIs
  • Unlock and master hundreds of weapons + items
  • Harvest materials and build detailed structures
  • Fight through matches and earn Victory Royales
  • Join limited time modes and seasonal events
  • Squad up with friends or play solo

Plus, free players can unlock a small number of basic cosmetic items through seasonal leveling challenges. For example, reaching tier 25 in the current chapter‘s battle pass awards a free DJ Beast Skin.

However, options are still limited compared to paid players, who can access over 1500 different skins currently. Let‘s talk about why people pay!

Why Pay Money for Fortnite?

As a free-to-play game, Fortnite encourages paying for cosmetics and Battle Passes while keeping core gameplay identical for all. There are a few main reasons players spend money:

Reason 1 – Collect Rare and Exclusive Cosmetics

Fortnite‘s vast cosmetic system is a huge part of its appeal. There are over 1500 skins, 1200 pickaxes, 800 back blings, 500 gliders, 300 emotes, and more.

These let you personalize your character with different looks and flex styles. Some cosmetics are super rare or even limited edition.

For example, the Midas Flopper skin awarded during Chapter 1 Season 2 has only been obtainable by a few players, making it incredibly exclusive.

Reason 2 – Battle Pass Rewards and V-Bucks

The Battle Pass gives around 100 tiers of cosmetic rewards each season. Premium skins, gliders, equipment sets, and more.

These are exclusive to the pass, so buying it guarantees tons of loot. The pass also awards 1500 V-Bucks as you progress, enough to buy the next season‘s too.

Reason 3 – Support Epic‘s Development

Many fans happily pay in order to help fund Fortnite‘s ongoing development and updates. Epic‘s consistently releasing new content and storylines.

Revenue helps cover operating costs and salaries for the developers working hard to keep improving Fortnite.

Reason 4 – Look Stylish and Intimidating

Having a large cosmetic collection lets you mix and match looks to stand out in the island. Some skins even provide slight competitive advantages.

For example, darker "sweaty" skins can blend into shadows while bright skins attract attention. There‘s strategy in choosing your style.

Now let‘s break down all the ways to pay for Fortnite extras.

Fortnite Payment Packages and Perks

If you decide to pay, there are a few routes available:

Battle Pass Subscription

  • Cost is 950 V-Bucks (~$9.50) per season
  • Unlocks 100 tiers of cosmetic rewards
  • Change themes and content each season
  • Earn up to 1500 V-Bucks to save for next pass

V-Buck Packages

  • Packages range from $8 for 1000 V-Bucks to $100 for 13500
  • Used to purchase Item Shop cosmetics directly
  • Note: Purchases are platform locked (PC to PC, etc)

Save the World PvE Mode

  • Originally the main Fortnite mode before Battle Royale
  • Player vs environment co-op campaign
  • Costs $39.99 for full access
  • Grants challenges, rewards, and earnable V-Bucks

Crew Subscription

  • $11.99 per month
  • Battle Pass subscription
  • 1000 V-Bucks each month
  • Exclusive monthly skin/gear bundle

Now let‘s explore what V-Bucks can actually buy.

V-Bucks Explained: Cosmetics, Battle Pass, and More

V-Bucks are Fortnite‘s virtual currency used in both modes to purchase:

Cosmetic Items

  • Outfit skins – Change character models
  • Back bling – Cosmetic backpacks
  • Pickaxes – Harvesting tools
  • Gliders – Parachutes
  • Emotes – Dances and gestures
  • Wraps – Change weapons‘ styles
  • Loading screens
  • Music packs
  • And more

Other V-Buck Uses

  • Battle Pass subscription
  • Save the World mode access
  • Gift skins and items to friends

Here are some example V-Buck prices:

  • Rare Emotes: 200 to 500 V-Bucks
  • Rare Outfits: 800 to 1200 V-Bucks
  • Epic Outfits: 1500 to 2000 V-Bucks
  • Legendary Outfits: 2000 to 3000 V-Bucks

It‘s worth over 1500 V-Bucks can be earned each Battle Pass season, reducing the need to buy more.

Now let‘s examine if spending money gives gameplay advantages.

Does Paying Give You a Competitive Edge?

A common concern is whether Fortnite is "pay to win" – meaning paying money gives unfair gameplay advantages over free players.

The answer is no. Epic Games has pledged to keep core gameplay identical between free and paying players.

No weapons, items, or mechanics provide paying users an edge. V-Bucks only buy cosmetic changes like skins.

However, some rare skins provide minor visual advantages:

  • Darker skins can hide in shadows
  • Brighter skins attract attention
  • Female skins have slightly smaller hitboxes

But the differences are extremely minor. Overall, free players are on equal ground competitively.

Now let‘s see how players can profit from Fortnite.

Money-Making Opportunities for Players

Believe it or not, there are ways skilled Fortnite players can make money – both free and paid. Methods include:

Tournaments and Competitive Events

  • Epic hosts various tournaments with cash prizes
  • Over $30 million awarded during the 2019 World Cup
  • Requires skill to qualify and place highly

Live Streaming on Twitch/YouTube

  • Popular streamers earn money from subscribers + donations
  • Sponsorships and ad revenue provide income
  • Building a big audience is crucial for revenue

According to StreamElements‘ 2022 Q3 data, Fortnite remains a top 5 game for live streaming, with over 287 million hours watched. Ninja famously built his brand streaming Fortnite gameplay.

Selling Accounts

  • Accounts with rare skins can sell for over $100
  • Against Epic‘s Terms of Service however

YouTube Video Creation

  • Fortnite tip videos, gameplay, etc gain ad revenue
  • Sponsorships also pay popular channels
  • Quality content and engagement drives earnings

While profits take dedication, Fortnite at least offers possibilities. Now let‘s examine age ratings.

Age Ratings and Parental Controls

Fortnite carries an ESRB rating of T for Teen. Common Sense Media also recommends 13+ due to fantasy violence.

As a colorful battle royale shooter, Fortnite contains violence but isn‘t graphic or gory. There‘s no nudity, sex, or strong language either.

For younger kids interested in Fortnite, parental supervision is highly recommended. Monitoring playtime and online interactions is advised.

Epic also provides robust parental controls for under 13 accounts:

  • Restrict online chat to friends only
  • Require permission for purchases
  • Set daily playtime limits
  • View recent teammates and reports

Activating these controls requires verifying your age. Overall, Fortnite is less mature than franchises like Call of Duty or GTA. But each child‘s maturity level should factor into the decision.

Now let‘s recap the key differences between free and paid Fortnite.

Free vs Paid Fortnite: Key Differences

Free Version Paid Version
Battle Royale Access Full access Full access
V-Bucks Earned Limited through gameplay 1500+ per Battle Pass
Cosmetic Items Limited free options Battle Pass sets + unlimited purchases
Competitive Events Entry permitted Entry permitted
Money Making Potential Tournaments, streaming, videos Same as free

The main takeaway is that core gameplay is identical either way. You decide whether the cosmetics and personalization are worth paying for!

Let me know if you have any other Fortnite questions. I‘m happy to help fellow fans master the island!