The biggest problem with Fortnite is that, by far, it’s the fastest changing game in history. A game that started as a cooperative tower defense game and was catapulted into stardom with a battle royale mode is still both of those things, now with years of substantial additions and, every so often, a complete change of decor. It wouldn’t even be accurate to say you’re still playing the same game: how do you rank something like Fortnite’s amazing bespoke concerts, or movie tie-ins, or something like the interactive Martin Luther King exhibit? Jr? When Epic calls this thing a platform, you have to admit it’s right.
One of the principles of Fortnite is partnership. Epic quickly realized that when your business model is selling battle passes and cosmetics, you can’t have too many brand crossovers. It really can’t be overstated how much of a part of Fortnite’s appeal that is, with a seemingly endless cast of already famous characters rotating around, usually at a time that ties into something else (like the recent Spider-Man tie-in at the sides of the last film).
Here’s an idea of the scale Fortnite operates on in this regard. 2021 has seen characters like these appear in the game (I’ve grouped a few similar types together to save this stretch):
- Le Mandalorien, Boba Fett
- Master chef
- Black Panther, Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn
- Rick Grimes et Michonne de The Walking Dead
- The Terminator
- Ryu et Chun-Li
- Ripley and the Xenomorph
- Lara Croft
- Harley Quinn
- Footballer Neymar Jr.
- rick and morty
- Spiderman, Carnage, Nick Fury, Thanos
- James Lebron
- Mike Lowrey (Will Smith dans Bad Boys)
- Frankenstein’s monster
- Ariana Grande
- Chris Redfield et Jill Valentine
- Jinx d’Arcane
- A bunch of Naruto characters
- Marcus Phoenix
Here’s Epic’s Chief Creative Officer yesterday, teasing a Back to the Future collaboration. And it goes on and on and on.
This list is far from complete. That’s not even including non-character ties: the new Cobra Kai season, for example, came with a bunch of Fortnite Cobra Kai Karate gis, and that’s only scratching the surface. Fortnite had themed items and aspects across a wild range of brands, from a Ferrari deal that saw the cars appear in-game, to having Air Jordan cosmetics, to a tie-up with luxury fashion house Balenciaga. . The interactive Radiohead KidAmnesiac exhibit resumed loading screen upon release. There was a back bling Monopoly link alongside a new version of the Fortnite-themed board game.
I could go on and on. It’s pretty easy to pick out some of the themes that Epic pursues and why they make sense. Fortnite’s audience leans towards the younger side, so superheroes and Netflix’s flagship shows are at the top of the list, as are other classic video game series. Superheroes are worth pausing on briefly, because it goes both ways: part of the appeal of Fortnite has always been that, regardless of what Epic does in the game, there are plenty of famous people playing it. outside of the game. With The Avengers, for example, the Russo brothers (directors of Infinity War and Endgame) liked the game and suggested 2020’s Thanos crossover, before co-directing the opening cinematic of Chapter 2 from season 6 of March 2021.
I’m sorry to talk so much about brand synergy, but what we might call “aspirational” brands are also a big part of the appeal. To my old, shrunken mind, that equates to a lot of culture of influence and the desire to touch or be associated with luxury.
Monopoly? Alright, you got me there: maybe it was a real metaverse moment.
I guess having raised the “m” word, it’s worth pausing to find out if Fortnite fits that rather ill-defined tag. And it probably is: better than anything called a metaverse, of course. What lends some credence to Fortnite’s claims in this regard is that the core of the game, the reason so many players log in regularly, isn’t really part of its big events. These are usually special time-limited modes where players watch either a show (with the ability to roam) or one-off spaces like the King Exhibit: you watch Ariana Grande or visit this museum in Fortnite but, at those times, Fortnite is just the vector of something else, something separate.
How far all this can go is the big question. Organizing a virtual concert with a famous artist is one thing; even creating a whole new game mode for a single event is fine. But Fortnite, like any type of metaverse, will always be tied to what Fortnite audiences react to, and the broader way the metaverse is presented by companies like Meta-nee-Facebook seems quite distinct.
It’s to Fortnite’s huge credit, however, that it’s definitely at the forefront of something big: even if it’s just showing everyone how to build and support a service game. live. There’s a lot of flash-in-the-pans in the games industry, but Fortnite and its enormous success are now almost part of the scenery: in that it almost feels like Fortnite’s ambition is to self.
Yes, of course Epic has the money to do whatever it wants. The fact remains that he chooses to make bold decisions about the game and has the ability to surprise how far he will go. The Spider-Man tie-in might have been predictable, for example, but the fact that Epic introduced a game-wide web-switching mechanic alongside a new map that suited him much better shows a determined developer to double down and do more of what it does well.
I haven’t touched on the ongoing in-game story which, while understandably quite silly, also allows the game to do things like bring a mother ship hovering above the map, or introduce cube hunting corruption, as well as building to those climactic end-of-season events where, and again credit where credit is due, the results look consistent. The climax of Season 2 occurred on December 5, 2021, an event called The End where players embarked on a roughly half-hour mission and, halfway through, the island the game is on. scroll begins to rock. You see all of this happening from afar, it’s amazing to watch, and in the end the island has turned around and there’s the whole new Season 3 map to see.
It’s hard to put a number on how many people are playing Fortnite in 2022, because Epic only really talk numbers when they have a big headline to brag about. It boasted 350 million registered players in 2020 and hasn’t updated that figure since, but it’s a staggering and unimaginable number. Considering the amount of Fortnite merchandise, the 170,000 people watching it on Twitch as I write, and the fact that it was still the 10th most discussed game on social media of the year last, things seem to be moving forward.
Fortnite now has over 350 million registered players! In April, players spent over 3.2 billion hours in-game. 🙌🥳 Let’s keep the party going with our first Party Royale LIVE on May 8th at 9pm ET with @DillonFrancis @steveaoki @deadmau5: https:// t.co/H18c3UgBL1 pic.twitter.com/Cgt3r7LXQOMay 6, 2020
For Fortnite in 2022, the big question is whether Epic will continue to push the boundaries with its live service model. Over time, the developer has become more ambitious about what it’s willing to do and, while another huge lineup of celebrity cameos and character skins is the least fans can expect, the game has now proven itself capable of refreshing the base experience while adding more and more spectacular unique pieces to it.
It may surprise you to know that after writing all of this, Fortnite isn’t really my game. But there’s a weird thing about it. I’ve never had another game that made me come back so regularly, even for an hour, just to check out something I heard about on the news. In that sense, Fortnite now feels like part of the furniture, an example for any other game that has the ambition to keep a large audience interested for quite some time.