How does ‘Fortnite’ score so many amazing crossovers?
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It’s a tense moment on the island. Tucked away in an office building, Batman, John Wick and Lara Croft eye each other nervously, each wishing they’d scored a Chug Splash to share. In the street below, the Xenomorph nods at LeBron James and Iron Man as the trio ignite their lightsabers. Somewhere in the distance, the faint sounds of ‘Gangnam Style’ float over the rooftops…
Just a few years ago, the above would have looked like the ravings of a madman, but it’s actually a pretty typical game of fortnite. Over the years, Epic’s battle royale juggernaut has become famous for the colossal amount of IPs featured in-game, including some of the biggest names in entertainment on the planet.
The list is endless, although we’ve seen skins, items, and additions to the map from star warsMarvel, DC, NFL, League of Legends, and The Walking Dead. Beyond that, there are eye-catching limited-time events, like the NBA celebrating its 75th anniversary with a basketball-themed hub world filled with mini-games, in-game screenings of Creation and The black Knightand extravagant in-game gigs like Ariana Grande and Travis Scott.
So how does it all work? Well, the simplest answer is that Epic Games can offer IP owners an extremely attractive offer. misunderstanding. Each month, fortnite has around 270 million active gamers, with more than half in the crucial 18-24 demographic. Getting their eyeballs on what companies are selling is invaluable, which makes fortnite one of the most valuable pieces of real estate marketing in the world.
This allows Epic Games to bend the rules on how they represent characters. For example, nowhere else will Superman rub shoulders with Spider-Man. It may be something of a double-edged sword, as eyebrows have been raised at the sight of the notorious, gun-averse, murder-averse Batman blasting people with a shotgun. Then there was the dodgy tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., during which you could watch his famous “I Have a Dream” speech while trying not to get distracted by armies of Rick Sanchez clones. spamming emotes.
At this point, you’d be forgiven for wondering if Epic Games pays companies to license their characters or vice versa. The exact details are a closely guarded corporate secret and likely vary by licensing agreement, so some companies are likely taking a percentage of each licensed skin sold while others are taking a flat fee for inclusion in the game. Similar offers will be in place for events, although we suspect explicit in-game marketing like the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker The exclusive footage reveal involves money being paid to Epic for access to its audience.
We got a rare glimpse into the inner workings of ‘Fortnite’financial machine last year during the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple. The disclosure process saw several confidential corporate documents made public, including a Powerpoint presentation explaining how profitable Epic’s collaborations are. For example, during the NFL event, players purchased 3.3 million branded skins, each selling for 1,500 V-Bucks each (about $15). That’s around $50 million in revenue for a single set of skins.
The presentation also showcased the highest earning collaborations. The NFL was third, star wars was second and Marvel was number one. Although the bar graph does not give exact numbers, the size of the bars indicates that star wars made about $55 million and Marvel about $75 million (in total, fortnite generates about 4 to 5 billion dollars each year).
Few companies are able to leave a lot of potential revenue on the table when fortnite comes knocking on the door, with one of the few apparent exceptions Nintendo pushing back against Epic’s attempts to license a Samus Aran skin for their “Gaming Legends” series.
Another wrinkle in the story is that Epic Games and the Walt Disney Corporation have a very comfortable business relationship. In 2017, Epic was selected for the “Disney Accelerator” program, designed to (according to Epic’s press release):
“Connect Disney Portfolio Companies to the creativity, imagination and expertise of The Walt Disney Company by providing attendees with unparalleled access to Disney’s leadership team, mentorship and support.”
Plus, Disney is a minority shareholder in Epic, and the two companies are now related in way more ways than fortnite. For example, Epic’s Unreal Engine is used for new rides in Disney parks and is widely used in film and television production as part of “The Volume” real-time CGI backdrop. This likely means that if Epic or Disney want a specific skin from their massive Mouse House IP collection in-game, all they have to do is ask.
But can the good times last forever? fortniteCollaborations may not be slowing down (Scarlet Witch and RoboCop just got on the Battle Bus), but their player base is. The launch of Apple’s App Store in August 2020 saw an overnight drop of 73 million players and each passing month sees a continued drop.
Things aren’t catastrophic – we’re talking a drop of one million players per month from a total of 270 million – but the declining numbers aren’t great. Perhaps part of this is due to a plateauing of the large spike in gamers during the COVID-19 lockdowns when many kids were stuck at home with nothing to do but kick off the 90s. However , it’s telling that my source close to the ground on this (i.e. my ten-year-old nephew, Rhys) is quick to state fortnite “a dead game”.
fortnite may also soon find itself competing as a “social platform” with Metaverse’s Metaverse, and there will still be another major multiplayer game hot on its heels. Until now fortnite saw suitors like Remedy Apex Legendsbut one day his crown will inevitably fall.
Until then, the party doesn’t stop at Epic Games, with fortnite seemingly destined to swallow the majority of the world’s most popular characters. Now when will we get that fucking Peter Griffin hide they keep teasing?