Fortnite started off as a global gaming sensation but has evolved into an exceptional metaverse platform, which is reshaping the landscape of brand collaborations and activations. Over the last few years, there has been an influx of brands rushing to collaborate in the metaverse, particularly by brands which are seeking to engage with a younger, digitally-savvy audience. This shift towards the metaverse signifies a new era in digital marketing and brand engagement.
Epic Games, parent company of Fortnite, has fully embraced this trend with their IP crossover events, thus blurring the lines between gaming, entertainment, and consumer branding. Similar to Roblox, Fortnite Creative features an open-world creativity that allows brands to design their personalized campaigns within the Fortnite universe. The program is accessible to anyone, which gives brands the ability to create activations without working directly with Epic Games and opens up endless opportunities. Let’s explore some of the best collaborations that took place in the Fortnite universe.
Over the past 4 years, Fortnite has had a lot of collaborations with Marvel, introducing multiple characters from the publisher’s comics and movie adaptations into the Fortnite universe. Starting in 2019 with character skins like Black Widow and Star-Lord, this partnership was born from a mutual admiration between Fortnite creators and Marvel’s Avengers directors, Joe and Anthony Russo. The following activations, mainly manifested through skins or avatars in metaverse terms, have been a hit among players. These were often accompanied by themed pickaxes such as Deadpool’s Katanas and Groot’s Sap Axes, thus further enhancing the gaming experience. Interestingly, this collaboration appears to be driven more by creative synergies than financial exchanges. Both parties agreed that Marvel would incorporate Fortnite into its movies and vice versa.
In September 2021, Balenciaga became the first fashion brand to enter the Fortnite universe. Drawing inspiration from Balenciaga’s iconic collections, the luxury brand introduced the Balenciaga Fit Set collection which featured new outfits for popular Fortnite characters, such as Doggo, Ramirez, Knight, and Banshee. “Fashion has a long history in the Fortnite community, where players have the agency to show up however they want in our world,” said Adam Sussman, President at Epic Games. “Self-expression is one of the things that makes Fortnite so unique, and there couldn’t be a better first fashion partner than Balenciaga to bring their authentic designs and trendsetting culture to millions of players around the world.”
A community-driven living lookbook campaign was also debuted in Strange Times Featured Hub within Fortnite. The virtual space included a Balenciaga retail store that drew inspiration from the brand’s brick-and-mortar locations, and even let the players do a Balenciaga custom dance in the streets. The space highlighted the Fortnite community’s fashion on billboards, blending player creativity with eclectic elements. The brand took their partnership to the physical world by introducing a limited-edition line of clothing apparel and was available exclusively in selected Balenciaga stores and on their website. The clothing collection was inspired by the in-game Retail Row and included hats, tees, and hoodies. The collaboration was further showcased with a DOOH activation – a 3D billboard experience was created in London, New York, Tokyo and Seoul.
Also read: 5 Best Brand Activations on Roblox
In 2019, Netflix was quoted as calling Fortnite a bigger than HBO. Famously, they decided to team up with their “competitor” and gave Fortnite players access to characters from various shows like Arcane, One Piece and Stranger Things. In 2019, in line with the release of Stranger Things’ 3rd season, Fortnite introduced skins based on the show’s beloved characters (like Demogorgon and Chief Hopper), and in-game locations transformed to mirror iconic locations from the series, like the Scoops Ahoy ice cream parlor. These skins became rare as they went out of circulation but were recently re-released again in November 2023 along with a new skin based on the main character, Eleven.
Similarly, to celebrate the live action adoption of the famous anime, One Piece, Netflix released the One Piece gaming experience in Fortnite’s metaverse which featured custom graphics and animations depicting the three classic ships shown in the show. Similar to other battle royale games in Fortnite, when players join this experience, they are assigned to one of the two crews and equipped with swords, flint-knock pistols and cannons. Other notable collaborations included Extraction’s Tyler Rake getting his own Fortnite skin and release of 10 outfits based on Cobra Kai’s characters.
This collaboration not only brought avatars to Fortnite’s shop, such as Leia, Luke, Han, Obi-Wan, and Darth Maul, but also gave the players new and detailed additions to the virtual gaming map. Users could also fight Clone Troopers, Storm Troopers, and Darth Vader as part of the game and even learn force fighting skills and abilities from them. In the first launch that was intended to celebrate the release of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”, Disney went one step further by featuring a special preview of the movie in the Fortnite universe, which was viewed by 3.1 million people globally.
Some other notable collaborations with fashion brands
Ralph Lauren launched a digital clothing and accessories collection within the Fortnite Item Shop and a physical clothing collection, including polos and sweaters, inspired by the digital collection. For the first time in 55 years, the iconic Ralph lauren Polo Pony logo was redesigned for the metaverse collab. Prices for the digital apparel ranged between 1300 to 1500 Vbux.
Nike launched ‘Airphoria’, a visually immersive Air Max-themed universe in an effort to amplifies its efforts in gaming and virtual products. Players who dropped into Airphoria embarked on the ultimate Nike sneaker hunt to recover lost Air Max Grails and earn an in-game reward in the process, the Air Max 1 ’86 Back Bling.
The integration of 3D Viewer technology highlights the future of e-commerce. Like the one developed by METAV.RS for the fashion brand Maje, this integration signifies a leap forward in how consumers will interact with products online and offers a glimpse into the future of digital retail.