On Sunday, Epic Games, the developer of online battle royale video game Fortnite, tweeted a cryptic phrase stating: “This is the end.” As of right now, the Fortnite Twitter page is live streaming a black hole, with no tweet left to read and a black icon as its display picture. Much like the snap of Thanos in Avengers Infinity War, the move left the world in a state of confusion.
It all started around 2pm ET on October 13. Players had been expecting a momentous event to jumpstart the game’s chapter 2; but none had foreseen what was to come.
A meteor flared up in the sky of Fortnite’s season 10 map, destroying the landscape before turning into a black hole that sucked everything in its path – including the players. Every single component of the game was wiped out, with nothing left but a black screen. Live streamers were able to record their final moments before the inevitable conclusion; but when they fled to Twitter for information, just like other fans, they found nothing there. Millions were left wondering what had just happened and, most importantly, what was to become of the game. The entire fanbase was – quite literally – left in the dark.
What does this mean?
Fortnite is a massive online gaming platform that has garnered a cult-like following since its launch two years ago. The game has managed to revolutionize the e-sports industry, bringing it on par with big traditional sports leagues such as the Fifa world cup & the superbowl.
Part of this success can be explained by Epic Games’ unconventional marketing strategy. The recent blackout is (most probably) one of the many marketing stunts the company has executed over the years to announce Fortnite’s new happenings. For example, as a teaser for the new desert maps to be unveiled in Fortnite’s season 5 in 2018, it created an ARG (alternate reality game) around Durr Burger, a fictional fast food chain from the game’s universe that was installed for real in the California desert.
What…. is this… I’m in the middle of the desert why is this here??? pic.twitter.com/oTMiGc0Wno
— Sela Shiloni (@selashiloni) July 6, 2018
Fortnite has never shied away from going big in its executions. In February 2019, it hosted for its fanbase a real-time virtual concert with music producer and DJ Marshmello, in yet another innovative experiential marketing strategy. Various speculations are doing the rounds. While the blackhole event is widely viewed as a teaser for the chapter 2’s entirely new world, some are concerned that the stunt might actually be meant to end the game in a way that would make gaming history.
Can we all just take a moment…
The simpsons even managed to predict the end of #fortnite
— Somberly @EpicGamesOffice (@SomberlyFN) October 14, 2019
Whatever the outcome, the results speak for themselves: the memes have started rolling in while Fortnite still sits at number 2 on live streaming platform Twitch, even though it has been unplayable for over 24 hours! However, an alleged trailer has been leaked by Skin Tracker stating it as official via Epic Games permission on Twitter.
We have clearance from Epic to post the Trailer!
— Skin-Tracker (@SkinTrackerCom) October 14, 2019
Epic Games clearly managed to create overnight a buzz, worthy of mega movie releases or major product reveals. The kind of stunts they will come up with for Fortnite’s upcoming season is anyone’s guess.