“We ended up playing pretty much every night. We never had more than four versus four for the first month or so, and slowly the word kind of spread, and I started releasing more maps and showing them off. We ended up growing to where we had a full room every night,” he says, where up to eight players would join the lobby to try out his handmade maps.
Interest was so high that Reed recreated other SOCOM maps in Creative. He also did whatever he could to mimic SOCOM’s gameplay within Fortnite, ditching many of the zany mechanics that define a battle royale, which is known to have Thanos and Darth Vader zipping between buildings using Spider-Man’s web-slinging powers.
Now, Reed runs a regular competitive league of SOCOM fans who play Fortnite as if they were playing a tactical shooter over 10 years old.
More than a few creators use Creative as a canvas: Coaches use it to create custom training courses for players who compete in the Fortnite Championship Series, and companies like Coca-Cola and Gilette create marketing “experiences” in the mode with the help of creatives who design for it.
“Creative, nowadays, has become what its original vision promised,” says Fortnite coach Sameed Mohammed. “These creators are able to make maps that I use to build routines that train players. They’ve unlocked its full potential.”
Dozens of creators have built an entire genre of maps that are designed to help players improve their basic Fortnite skills, no matter their skill level. Maps that help players learn to build a wall, edit a window, and fire off a shot within seconds are a dime a dozen. Most players spend more time training in Creative than they do actually playing in the competitive modes they’re training for.
“They’re in it 24/7, they play it more than the real game,” Mohammed says. “It’s evolved into something that people do for fun.”
Referencing other FPS training platforms like Aimlab and Aim Trainer, Mohammed says, “Fortnite Creative provides a complete way to train. While Aimlab does have other features that Fortnite doesn’t, like statistics you can track, there is nothing more important for pro players to feel like than an extension of the game they’re playing.”
Creative looks nothing like it did when it originally launched in late 2018, according to some of the most dedicated creators working in the mode now.
“It’s like night and day,” said Team Alliance’s Mackenzie Jackson. He explains that more assets and programming options have been added over the past four years. “The options before were so limiting.”
Team Alliance is one of several Fortnite marketing agencies that work with companies like 100 Thieves, Sky Broadband, and others to create branded experiences within Fortnite Creative. They often charge up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for custom maps, partially due to how many players use Creative every day.
These agencies are essentially game studios themselves. They build out concept ideas, design levels, program gameplay, fill-in art, and bug test—all within a matter of weeks—so players can pretend to be delivery drivers for GrubHub while driving around in Fortnite.