Kinda skimmed the article the first time, so went back and re-read so I can better respond.
Fortnite's success rests on three pillars, as outlined by Fortune: accessibility, sociability, and spectacle.
On video game platforms, different gaming consoles created different experiences. A player on a laptop could not play with another play on a mobile device, or a Playstation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch. Fortnite cracked that code. Now all players are playing in the same world -- a world that is easy to play immediately -- and play in the same game. The effects of this are huge, creating a gaming community that is agnostic of which device you play on.
This, however, makes for a poor comparison. Playstation (Sony), Xbox (Microsoft), Nintendo (duh) and "PC" are all separate competing entities. A better comparison would not be to different versions of D&D or different worlds but to Paizo vs. WotC. Arguably, both rule sets are compatible, though you'll still find some players who refuse to do so, still, the divide created between different versions, heck, even different editions of D&D was largely accidental. I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I doubt the goal of a new edition, a new world, or a new version was to divide the players.
With video games, IT IS. It is purposeful in order to enforce "brand loyalty".
More important, like the Basic rules of D&D, Fortnite is free to play. It's all the accessories that cost more, and Epic Games wisely focused its efforts on providing compelling, optional content than on game-breaking rules to entice players to spend their hard-earned money. Converting players is challenging -- a 2% conversion rate is common -- but Fortnite averages an astounding 68.8% conversion rate, spending on average $85!
I find the use of the term "game breaking rules" here quite interesting, so emphasis mine. Is this a reference to loot-boxes and cash shops providing players with items that are game-impacting? Is this also a reference to splatbooks in RPGs that often throw new high-powered options into the mix? It's interesting to refer to either of those as game-breaking. The former, any given player cannot do anything about, the latter DMs can simply refuse to accept the material.
Fortnite mimics this aspect too. Players can join games in squads of up to four, although there's no classes or specialization to speak of. Fortnite's map is static, but it changes with each season, providing new goals and new equipment that alters the game in significant ways. In this regard, Fortnite has a lot in common with D&D hexcrawls, in which deep exploration of a map unearths new and exciting adventures.
But lets not forget that the cooperative aspect of the game is a subset of the competitive aspect of the game. An element that D&D entirely lacks. (assuming your DM does not build it into the game) There are still 96 other players, potentially 25 total teams, competing for victory. The other 96 opponents are not NPCs, with predictable actions, paths and traits.
Also, this is kinda starting to sound like an ad for Fortnite.
If D&D had a weakness in the past, it was spectacle. The game was largely confined to small groups playing in mostly non-public areas. Tournaments alleviated some of this, but to the casual observer, seeing actual gameplay was difficult to come by. That all changed thanks to video, livestreaming, and podcasts.
LOLWUT. I may be "in the know" but back in the 4E Encounters days, piratically every store in town was running and advertizing for it. You wanted to see gameplay, you popped right in and watched the group play, heck, you might even join up! Yeah okay you had to get up off your butt, leave your computer screen, possibly drive somewhere, but no more effort was required than going to see the live music Friday night at the bar.
This also affected how D&D was perceived and played. D&D's playerbase has expanded tremendously to encompass people from all walks of life, and the Fifth Edition art has changed to reflect that. More women are playing D&D than ever before, and by making it accessible on channels like Twitch and YouTube, D&D is finding audiences who might not normally have encountered it.
Time keeps on skippin...skippin..skippin...
Woah there's some time travel going on here that could make Portal Through Time look safe. It's weird to talk about how both more women are playing D&D...and D&D's art has changed to reflect that. *coughnomentionofminoiritescough* I mean, chicken or the egg man. And then you throw streaming services into it like they're bringing new groups of people into it (which I'm sure they are) but the way its written here sounds like they brought new people into it, which changed the art, which brought new people into it, which changed the art, I'm so confused!
D&D is also never the same game twice. Because game masters control the flow of the game, even the same adventure played by two different game masters will likely be quite different. This makes it fun to play repeatedly and at length; the tropes may be familiar, but the gameplay is always innovative.
Well, I wouldn't say always, but yeah sure.
impact is enormous, and it's no coincidence that D&D is experiencing a similar surge in popularity. What makes a good multiplayer game extends across platforms and genres; Fortnite's just capturing what made D&D so special in the first place.
I guess? Frankly, I see it the other way around, I see D&D as finally catching up to what makes a good video game, with the developers finally getting their heads out of the stone-age and seeing that video-games, which once spawned from TTRPGs, can now in return teach them something about what makes for a good game. About what "people" or "the market" are enjoying outside the bubble of their own gaming niche. Knowing what your players want is important in any game, but finding out what people in general are enjoying is important for the growth and longevity of the game. And D&D has struggled with getting new people into the game for decades.
There are threads that both Fortnite and D&D are pulling on that are making them successful right now. These threads exist outside of each individual game and can be seen in other games and other platforms as well. Ease of entry. Low overhead. Low time requirements. Low jargon. Shallow learning curve. Now, I might posit these aren't necessarily positive traits to be seeing on mass society, but they are indeed common.