Fortnite Has Way, Way Too Many Ads & Brand Deals

It's out of control.

Fortnite Crossovers ads

You probably don’t need me to tell you that Fortnite is a pop culture monolith and has been for the last three or so years. It can be seen everywhere, seeping into the MCU (and vice versa), dominating Twitch, and making parents everywhere question where all this spending on their credit card came from.

Fortnite is in the middle of an odd transition, though, it trying to create a metaverse that connects its world with ours, not unlike PlayStation Home. Players can log on right now and play as John Wick, take out Captain America and then get absolutely dunked on by a Demogorgon — it’s becoming a question of which pop culture properties haven’t collaborated with Fortnite yet.

Wick's Bounty John Wick Fortnite

Purely off the top of my head, here’s every crossover that’s come to Fortnite to date:

– John Wick
– The Avengers (twice, three times if you count the new game collab)
– Batman
– Borderlands
– Stranger Things
– Harley Quinn
– Nike Air
– Aquaman
– Deadpool (plus the X-Force)
– Star Wars
– Wreck-It Ralph
– It

I’m sure there are quite a few missing, but yeah, that’s a lot of cross-branding over the space of roughly the last two years. Wreck-It Ralph and It are the weirdest of all those listed, Ralph popping up on the big screen in Risky Reels and Pennywise’s laugh being heard after popping some balloons.

It’s not just skins and weird pop up cameos, though: Fortnite entirely changed its meta to bring John Wick and Star Wars weapons into the game, much to the chagrin of competitive players. Borderlands and Batman even had their very own locations on the map that overtook old spots, as if POIs can be swapped out as ad space. We can’t also forget that a good chunk of Rise of Skywalker’s opening was explained only within Fortnite.

Fortnite Batman

The biggest ad space of them all, though, has to be Party Royale. Originally designed as somewhere for players to hang out without eliminations, Party Royale has seen a plain weird blend of concerts, movies, and blatant ads for TV channels of late that feels completely inorganic.

From August 14th, players can drop into Party Royale and catch an early glimpse of Discovery’s Tiger Shark King, because Fortnite also has sharks, I guess?

Tiger Shark King
Tiger Shark King

Just prior to this, Party Royale also hosted random sports from ESPN for reasons that I am still unclear on. I understand Avengers and other pop culture properties finding their way over to Fortnite because of the massive crossover potential, but brand deals like this just feel entirely out of place and haphazardly implemented. Where’s the reasoning?

Epic have also leveraged the huge amount of Fortnite players to get them to download some kind of trivia app with the promise of a free cosmetic, as well as debuting trailers for upcoming movies — ads for ads, basically. Fair to say that Tenet loses a bit of its lustre when you’re stood next to a fish.

Even the crossover skins might be getting a bit too much for the Fortnite community, especially since they started being introduced into the Battle Pass to replace the traditional secret skins. Nobody’s complaining about free skins that would probably cost around 2000 V-Bucks from the Item Shop, but it’s the way they have replaced what came previously that’s started to rub players up the wrong way.

Deadpool's Pants

For the majority of seasons up until Fortnite: Chapter 2 – Season 2, players could complete additional challenges to unlock hidden skins that weren’t advertised as being a part of the Battle Pass. These usually tied into the storyline as a whole, such as Singularity being the pilot for Mecha Team Leader in Season 9, or members of The Seven, the shadowy cabal responsible for the implosion of the Chapter 1 map.

Next season, which is due to launch later in August, looks like it will almost certainly have Thor as the secret Battle Pass skin, continuing the trend of superhero skins in Fortnite. There will apparently also be comic books that might fill in background superhero lore, something that Fortnite’s lore could probably do with as well.

Thor Fortnite
Thor Fortnite

It seems like Epic have put the storyline on hold to focus on branded content this chapter so far, and it really doesn’t seem like the “narrative” is moving forward much at all. Make no mistake, the Fortnite storyline is out of control and pretty wacky, presumably to entice the likes of MatPat to make thirty videos about it, but those dedicated to following it are being fed scraps, it seems.

I understand what Epic are going for here, I really do. I also understand they have bills to pay. But their ad and crossover strategy right now feels like it’s hurting the game, a scattershot approach that is making players cynical due to how unnatural it all feels and  how it’s all for Fortnite: The Metaverse, not Fortnite: The Game. It’s a difficult balancing act, and right now Fortnite seems entirely skewed.

Fortnite: Chapter 2 – Season 3 is free-to-play on PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.

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