Epic Games has finally announced a release date for its hybrid co-op/tower defense/shooter. The game that was, and still is, intended to be a free-to-play title, will first be released for $39.99 on July 25 for those who want to start playing early. If you are willing to wait until sometime in 2018, the game will become a free-to-play download. Those who are really anxious to play the game can pre-order one of the Deluxe versions of game (starting at $59.99) and start playing it on July 21.

Why Epic has chosen such an unusual incremental release is unclear, but it probably has to do with unfulfilled promises.

It has been nearly six years since Epic Games announced Fortnite and in that time the game has struggled for release. The last we heard about it was back in 2015. Even then it had been four years since Epic announced the game. Mike Fischer, Epic’s VP of Publishing told Ars Technica that there were several reasons for the delay.

"The scope and scale of the game has increased from a game jam concept to a rich, full fledged world."

For one, they announced it too early. At the time Epic revealed it in 2011, the game was nothing more than an idea. Nothing had been hammered out, and pre-production had not even begun. Another thing that delayed the game was a change in scope and game engine.

They began developing the game on Unreal Engine 3, but sometime during development Unreal 4 was released, so the team decided to adapt it to their more powerful game engine. Along with that change, they decided to increase the “size and ambition” of the project.

Originally, the title was supposed to be a “game jam concept,” Fischer said, but they decided to develop “a rich, full-fledged world” instead. That is a nice way to say that the game suffered from scope creep. However, Fischer promised that the game would be released by the end of 2015.

Here it is 2017, and the game is apparently ready enough to charge $39.99 for it on July 25, but not ready enough to be free-to-play as it was originally planned. I am not convinced that this is a good way to go about a game's release, but we will see how it does.

The game will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, and Mac. In addition to the Standard and Deluxe versions, Super Deluxe and Limited Editions will also be available for $89.99 and $149.99 respectively.