Nearly three weeks ago on the MasonVeraPaine show, I was asked for my thoughts on the largest contributing factor to the success of Epic Games' battle royale mega-hit Fortnite. In answering, I pointed towards the nature of the Fortnite's community, a massive spread of passionate Fortnite players and fans alike. The fun, inviting aesthetic and the wide-open playstyle options lends itself to an environment where anyone can feel comfortable experiencing Fortnite in their preferred way.
Epic Games has cultivated a gaming experience that where competition is secondary to the enthralling opportunity to be a part of a thriving, ever-evolving community. Let's take a look at what makes Fortnite's community its best asset.
Two days before the Stranger Things season 3 premiere, portals reminiscent to those in the hit Netflix series' parallel dimension "The Upside-Down" started showing up over all the Fortnite map's vibrant landscape. In addition, two skins inspired by the series in the form of Chief David Hopper, as well as season 1 big bad Demogorgon, are also available to players as part of the special event.
This is not the first time Epic Games has shattered the proverbial fourth wall to draw real life influences into the Fortnite universe, as Marvel's Thanos also has a skin in the game released around the time the MCU's Avengers: Infinity War hit the silver screen.
Popular DJ and avid Fortnite player Marshmello not only competed with Tyler "Ninja" Blevins in the inaugural Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am, but also held a live virtual concert on the Fortnite map, turning the BR comptetiton into a dance party.
These type of collaborative events tie the fabric Fortnite into the real world of its playerbase. It may be a jarring approach for gaming fundamentalists and canonical enthusiasts, but the mainstream crossover is integral to Fortnite's non-endemic visibility. In riding the wave of mainstream media events, Epic Games also opens new roads for potential fanbase crossover.
The Event Experience
At E3 2019, Fortnite's footprint on the floor dwarfed every other game at the convention despite the game itself not showcasing anything new. A series of Fortnite brackets for 1v1, solos, and duos took place throughout E3, accompanied by a fanfare in the form of floats, giant building blocks, a ball pit, a myriad of Fortnite cosplayers, and of course, a battle bus.
In addition to the main E3 setup for Fortnite, Epic Games also had a separate two-room area called Dance Royale where fans, gamers, and cosplayers alike could practice their best Fortnite dance moves and show off against one another.The Fortnite Afterparty also took place in the afterhours of the event's main show, and featured a cosplay contest complete with a photo op.
Just a few days after E3, Fortnite took over the Forum in Inglewood, CA for the Fortnite Summer Block Party. Greater LA's largest arena, usually utilized for concerts of nationwide or global touring packages, was swarmed by Fortnite fans both inside and out. Different DJ booths, stages, and a variety of other endemic setups looked more reminiscent to a date on Vans Warped Tour than a gaming event.
The 2019 Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am also took place during the weekend as part of the event, but also featured a competition for Fortnite's new Creative Mode, a sandbox style mode in which players can test the limits of the game's capability against their own brand of innovation.
The new game mode is a great example of how Epic Games continues to grow Fortnite by increasing the amount of ways the game can be experienced, as well as indirectly creating a new interactive community sub-section.
Beyond the Game
Fortnite has become about more than just the game and its players. The events themselves feel more like a full-on, well-rounded experience that happen to feature some type of tournament format. In doing so, Fortnite's events through both various out of game activities, as well as the occasional charity initiative leaves everyone at the event, contestant, or not, feeling like a winner.
There is a high possibility that Fortnite will move towards doing more events and initiatives that have nothing to do with playing the game itself, especially due to the widespread popularity and Epic Games' allowance of independent third-party events. Read no further than the description of a Fortnite event happening on July 16th in Granite Bay, CA:
The popularity of “Fortnite” has reached the masses. Come show off your dance emotes and practice your artistic moves. We will paint, sculpt and fancy our way through this highly favored game - with the Fortnite burger, Llama Drama, and much more! Ages 9+
Fortnite is beginning to leak into the real world in more ways that don't directly rely on playing the game, or even an understanding of the Battle Royale genre. The 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals, which takes place on July 26th in New York, NY, will be the biggest Fortnite tournament yet. However, if there's one thing that can be counted on, it's that the event surrounding the tournament will be even larger in scale.