Liam Ferguson discusses the weird new precedent being set-up by Fortnite in recent years.
From movie screenings to virtual concerts and civil rights memorials, Fortnite’s mass-scale events only seem to continue to grow and display a new model for advertising within the gaming space
Epic Games’ Fortnite is undoubtedly the biggest game on the planet and has been for a number of years at this point. Due to this mass level of success, it stands to reason that many large sectors of the entertainment industry as a whole would want to try and capitalise off of it as well. From movie screenings to virtual concerts and civil rights memorials, Fortnite’s mass-scale events only seem to continue to grow and display a new model for advertising within the gaming space.
the option is also there to watch the film while wearing a Xenomorph skin and throwing tomatoes at a screen with thousands of other players
Let’s start with the movie tie-ins. Perhaps the weirdest fact of all about the much maligned Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is that there is a mention of a broadcast from then presumed dead Emperor Palpatine to the entire galaxy within the opening crawl of the film. This broadcast, which provides a large deal of context to the movie’s plot, actually took place during a promotional event within Fortnite, for some reason. Aside from this, Disney have latched onto the juggernaut of a game in a variety of other ways going so far as to include a scene of Thor playing it within Avenger’s: Endgame following a series of gameplay events used to promote the two latest Avengers films. Other movie studios have opted in to use Fortnite as a promotion tool as well, with Warner Bros. debuting a trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet within the game, and screening a number of his films with virtual movie nights inside of it. Sure, it’s easier to stick on The Prestige with Netflix but the option is also there to watch the film while wearing a Xenomorph skin and throwing tomatoes at a screen with thousands of other players.
Additionally, the virtual world has hosted concerts for some of the biggest artists on the planet. From Marshmello to Ariana Grande and an especially impressive showing from Travis Scott that drew in 12.3 million concurrent players, the game has been effectively utilised by the music industry. According to Billboard, Ariana Grande’s songs saw a massive spike in streams following her Fortnite appearance which only cements the fact that people are more than willing to show up for a concert within the title.
Unfortunately, not all Fortnite events are created equal. In August 2021, Fortnite partnered with TIME Studios to transport players into a virtual reimagining of 1963 Washington DC. They could walk through historical sites rife with minigames and educational pop-ups to arrive at a screening of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. While well-intentioned to an extent on paper, this particular inclusion came off as rather strange and out of touch. Thankfully, the ability to dance along to Doja Cat songs was disabled but that didn’t stop players from dressing up as Rick Sanchez and finding other creative ways to degrade the historical event.
Overall, Fortnite does not seem to be stopping with large advertising events, for better or worse. Hopefully in the future more educational ones can be presented with a larger amount of restrictions, but the concerts and movie-tie ins continue to break records and keep the game relevant.