Epic used everything it knows about how to get millions of people to show up to its events to pull off Fortnite’s biggest event yet — a showdown with Apple and Google.
The short concluded with a hashtag — #FreeFortnite — which Epic then used as the title of a blog explaining Epic’s position on Apple pulling Fortnite.
Twenty-nine minutes after that, Epic announced it was suing Apple and linked directly to the legal papers in a tweet from the main Fortnite Twitter account, which has more than 11 million followers.
And while the conflict with Apple has continued to escalate — Apple has threatened to pull Epic’s access to Apple’s developer tools by August 28th unless the studio makes changes to Fortnite — there hasn’t been a follow-up video or a new in-game event just yet.
Epic’s quieter response to Google might be because you can still play Fortnite on Android devices by downloading it directly from Epic or from Samsung’s app store — something that Epic suggests on its own website.
In the post, Epic noted that iOS players currently won’t be able to play the game’s upcoming next season (which will likely be packed with significant updates), and called on players to “join the fight against @AppStore on social media with #FreeFortnite.
Just one minute later, Epic announced a new “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” short that clearly looked to parody Apple’s famous “1984” ad, which it said would be premiering in-game at 4PM ET in Party Royale.
Epic typically puts a lot of effort into hyping events by plastering notices in-game and on social media to let players know that something is coming.
Epic Games took on Apple and Google in a very public way last week to protest what it believes are monopolistic app store policies.
But Epic was prepared for the fight in part because it knows how to make a spectacle, having already pulled off massive in-game events like the appearance of a giant rolling cube and a volcano eruption.
Interestingly, Epic didn’t roll out quite as much of its playbook against Google, despite Google also pulling Fortnite from the Play Store and Epic suing in response.
Epic then put the “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” short on loop on its Twitter, Twitch, and YouTube channels — a trick it also used for the black hole event — where it had thousands of simultaneous viewers across all three platforms.
While this was a detailed and well-planned campaign against Apple, Epic used many of these tactics just a week earlier to promote the addition of drivable cars to Fortnite.
Epic re-created iconic shots from the ad with characters that would be instantly recognizable to Fortnite fans and portrayed the Big Brother-esque character representing Apple as a literal talking apple.
And the new violence-free Party Royale mode has given Epic the opportunity to try out events on a different kind of scale, like full concerts, viewings of the show We The People, and airings of Christopher Nolan movies.
The studio did tweet about the game being taken off the Play Store, but that tweet was polite compared to what Epic has said against Apple.
But a large part of Fortnite’s success is the consistent creativity Epic brings to the game, so perhaps Epic has more in store to try to put the pressure on Apple.
It all started when Epic published a blog post on Thursday morning announcing a permanent 20 percent price drop on V-Bucks, Fortnite’s in-game virtual currency that was immediately available on every platform.
But for some time now, Epic has activated a special mode just for events, advises players to join early, and turns off shooting while the show is taking place.
Epic allowed you to buy V-Bucks at the new cheaper rate by going through its own payments system, or you could use Apple and Google’s payment systems to get them at a higher price.
And when the events do happen, they kick off at the exact same time for every one of Fortnite’s millions of players on every platform Fortnite runs on (which includes the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, and — for now — iOS and Android).
And millions of people tune in: the first Travis Scott Fortnite concert in April had more than 12 million attendees, according to Epic.
But while the black hole live streams were a way to build hype, Epic streamed the “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” video on repeat to try to rally support for its cause.