How Fortnite2 transcended gaming through storytelling and community

Sunday evening started out like any other day for Fortnite fans around the world.

That was until a meteor storm lit up the sky and 6 million people became part of ‘The End” event as the 10th series of the game came to a climatic end.

The sequence was captivating to watch and then followed by… well… nothing. A black hole replaced the island once everything had been swallowed up – including all the gamers online at the time – leaving many lost for words as they watched the event unfurl.

Then nothing…

Literally nothing for the next two days.

The black hole was livestreamed on the Fortnite Twitter account with all of their previous tweets hidden. On Instagram there were eight black images with a video in the centre of the black hole.

It was a brave and bold move by the publisher, risking the wrath of an estimated 250m players. Plunging them all into darkness for two days with no information on when it would return… or if it ever would.

This is the tale of epic storytelling on a level that even the brilliant minds behind the Marvel Universe would approve of.  It started in season three when players noticed space rocks hitting the surface of the island, leading to the much-hyped rocket launch at the end of season four. Since then there has been a consistent supply of nuggets for players to find that have all led ultimately to this moment. 

For any business to take that long-term view, leading towards what is, in essence, the launch of a new product (game) is rare. Imagine a situation where Nike are not only doing another great activation around, for example, the latest Air Jordan. But have already started building towards their ultimate BIG launch in two or three years’ time. Weaving that narrative into everything in the years leading up to it.

What can we learn from Epic Games?

Hopefully we won’t see brands trying to disappear for two days, even if we wish it would happen to a few! Instead, we should take inspiration from the power of community and storytelling.

Fortnite has become wildly popular with players spending many hours in the game, interacting with others in it and watching big names stream their latest battles. Players are emotionally involved in the game and part of a community who are equally as passionate. These people create the buzz on a global scale that any campaign needs to succeed. 

As we discussed earlier in this article, storytelling needs to have a long-term narrative. It is something that’s hard to achieve when you aren’t embedded in a storytelling environment such as gaming or films. But working towards having this mindset will help you look beyond the short-term goals directly in front of you. 

This focus is especially important within sponsorship when contracts are typically signed for a three to five-year period.  Being able to tell a story over that time that keep fans engaged is the ultimate goal. This will help develop a strong community and, ultimately, deliver your business objectives. 

If you’d like to talk to us about sponsorship or marketing, get in touch on hello@sqn.agency