Fortnite's Spectacle

We were up in South Carolina this weekend at a family reunion, and my son asked if he could borrow my wife’s cell phone so that he could play Fortnite with his cousins. We play Fortnite a good bit at our house as other than the Switch it is the one FPS game that I don’t worry about the kids playing too much. The kids and I play it together and although I have waned a little bit on it I pwnd noobs a bunch in seasons 1-4. He and his cousins were all huddled around the screen and talking about a concert, and I didn’t understand what they meant having played the game - it seemed there was an in-game event going on. I tried unsuccessfully to get a vibe on if they knew about it previously and had logged in to see it or if it was something that they just stumbled upon by logging in.

Yesterday in the hours leading up to the Super Bowl I noticed some people on Twitter talking about it and it seemed to be a pretty big event for a game that already has a lot of conversation going on. I know that Epic Games (creators of Fortnite) have an official business partnership with the NFL and have had one for the last few months. Fornite sells each team’s jersey in the game, and I would not be surprised if there were some emotes of Touchdown dances of some sort also. Probably some generic emote as not to get sued by Ickey Woods for selling his trademark Ickey Shuffle emotes without consent.

After seeing the success of the in-game event, I started to wonder if maybe Fortnite had actually planned to do it during the half time of the Super Bowl but instead went ahead and did it earlier because of their business partnership with the NFL and not wanting to cannibalize viewers of the NFL’s Maroon 5 half time show. I have no clue if this is true or not, just speculation, but how interesting would that be? A video game that is less than two years old could threaten to bring viewers away from one of America’s most extensively watched pastimes. Netflix was already ranting about Fortnite on their earnings call last week. The more and more I hear about Fortnite’s impact outside of gaming circles the more and more impressed I am with it. I wonder if it is going to be the bridge to virtual entertainment that has so far alluded and been speculated by so many sci-fi films and that so many games have worn a false crown of.