Week of April 25th 2019: Fortnite’s Avengers crossover event

This week Fortnite was featured for its crossover event for the release of Marvel’s new movie: Avenger’s Endgame. Although technically this is not a new release, this is a featured update. Also, Fortnite has a very interesting monetization strategy – and this  new update features some interesting monetization decisions.

Fortnite features a limited-time game mode that pits 2 teams of 20 players in a twist of Domination/King of the Hill. The Avengers team must defend multiple Infinity Gems that spawn on the map – and Thanos’ team must capture them. Players on Thanos’ team can play as the minions – and they rotate to play as Thanos. Players on the Avengers team can play with iconic weapons: Ironman’s gloves, Thor’s Hammer, Captain America’s Shield, etc.

Below 3 things I like about this update

1) Everything is better with an IP

I’ve worked on a few titles that had an IP. One of my biggest learnings is that when your game features an IP, it’s crucial to make it first about that IP – second about game modes and systems (in fact, I’ve argued elsewhere why you should always treat your game as if it were an IP). Making things about the IP first is especially important for a limited time event – because it’s something that’s both temporary and peripheral to your game’s main mode.

If it’s an IP that’s driving users to install or play your game, then you should make sure that’s what you’re providing them: what’s the most recognizable and iconic character of the IP, what part of the IP do players want to interact with the most, etc? That’s what your game should feature.

Fortnite did a really good job at capitalizing on the IP. First, it teased the event a week before it started.

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Then after players downloaded the update the game featured a 30-second trailer

 

Fortnite features a dedicated event for 10 days. That mode allows players to play as Thanos, a Chitauri (Thanos’ minions) or as an Avengers. Players can fight using Captain America’s shield, Thor’s hammer or Hawkeye’s bow, or even Thanos’ glove.

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There are challenges associated to the Endgame event. Challenges involve playing a given number of matches, getting kills with different weapons or collecting Infinity Gems. Most rewards are Marvel-related (the other ones are small amounts of XP).

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For it’s Endgame event, Fortnite did a great job of making it all about the Marvel universe and putting what’s most important and appealing about the IP forward.

 

2) Marvel Rarity

In Fornite every item has a rarity – and the progression of rarities follows a very familiar linear progression: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Epic, Legendary. Inflation is never a sustainable route – that’s a problem quite a few RPGs encounter. Of course, in Fortnite a common skin doesn’t perform better than a legendary skin. So that means there is no inflation problem. In fact, there isn’t even a necessity to have a linear rarity system. The advantage is that this rarity system is now “common knowledge” for players. It’s almost intuitive at this stage.

One thing Fortnite did really well for this event is be pragmatic about this (of course, totally arbitrary) rarity system and create a “Marvel” rarity. It creates a rarity that breaks free from the traditional linear progression of rarities. By doing that, Epic creates a sense of exclusivity, and sets the Marvel content apart from all other content.

This Marvel rarity makes the reward for the event all the more desirable. More importantly, it provides an even stronger incentive for the Marvel content that is being sold alongside the event. Not only does the game sell Marvel skins – which capitalizes on the appeal of the IP – it adds a sense of exclusivity to them.

 

On paper, this is a really good move – one that any game with a rarity system can implement for time-limited content. And if the online community’s reaction is anything to go by, this Marvel rarity is treated like quite a big deal.

 

3) Over the top game mode and weapons

Of course, there is actual gameplay associated to this event – it’s not only about IPs and rarities. The pace of this limited time mode is radically different from the standard Battle Royale mode (it’s worth checking the predictions on Battle Royale on Deconstructor of Fun if you haven’t read it yet).

This game mode takes place on the same map, and the storm still shrinks the playable area at regular intervals. The Endgame mode introduces some interesting twists that make for a fresh and entertaining experience. The game mode is all about explosions, jetpacks and large group battles in confined spaces.

 

When playing as an Avenger, players can play using Thor’s hammer, or Captain America’s shield. When playing with Ironman’s gloves, players can shoot – with a lock-on system – but also use the gloves to fly up. When playing as a Chitauri, players have unlimited ammo for laser rifles or energy launcher. Plus, a jet pack that allows players to glide and attack from above.

 

And of course, playing as Thanos allows players to wreak havoc and inflict major damage and casualties (or dance around).

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That’s why the Endgame mode is a great event for Fortnite. This fast pace, over the top combat is very far from what characterizes the Battle Royale mode – that’s why it’s great way to provide a fresh an entertaining (yet peripheral) limited-time event.

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