9:06 AM ET
Fortnite and the NBA are teaming up in a significant virtual collaboration.
Dubbed “Fortnite x NBA: The Crossover,” the event coincides with the start of the 2021 NBA postseason. On Friday, players will be able to equip NBA outfits for all 30 teams, and on May 25th can visit a “NBA Welcome Hub” in Fortnite’s Creative Mode, where NBA-themed experiences and content will reside. Player “Locker Bundles” will also be part of the drop, featuring Utah Jazz Shooting guard Donovan Mitchell and Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young. The pair will share their personal favorite items to equip while playing Fortnite and these items will be digitized and available for sale in the Fortnite Item Shop next week.
“We’ve been speaking to the NBA for a good while — over a year, almost two — so we’re really excited to be able to get this out there into the world for Fortnite and NBA fans,” Nate Nanzer, global head of partnerships at Fortnite creator Epic Games, said.
The event will also feature “Team Battles,” a five-day competition where 15,000 players per team will be able sign up for NBA teams in game and be able to participate in a series of challenges that will feed into a leaderboard. Up to 550,000 players can participate as a “fan” to also receive the opportunity to earn in-game rewards and V-Bucks, Fortnite’s in game currency. Cosmetics such as a “NBA Championship Trophy” that goes on a player’s back and “Spin!” spray are part of the offering.
Discussions have already begun on what kind of “continued collaboration” could come in the future between Fortnite and the NBA.
“Video game culture is certainly a shared passion across many of our NBA players and our fans worldwide, as well as for our leagues,” NBA senior vice president of global partnerships Matt Holt said. “Additionally, as we continue to engage our fans, the best approach is to meet them where they are, in creating personal and authentic experiences.”
This is the second time that Fortnite has joined forces with a major US sports league. In 2018, Epic Games partnered with the NFL, a relationship which is ongoing and which saw all 32 NFL team jerseys available as skins in the game. An ongoing court case between Epic Games and Apple revealed that that Epic sold 3.3 million NFL-related skins in November and December 2018 alone, amounting to an estimated $50 million in revenue.
Epic Games has been looking to expand Fortnite’s sports footprint for some time now.
“… We’ve had an amazing partnership with the NFL, but we haven’t really done much beyond our NFL partnership,” Nanzer previously told ESPN. “Over the last year, we’ve really been focused on how we can grow our footprint more in sports.”
In January, Fortnite released a global football event featuring 23 soccer clubs from across the globe, while Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar recently became the first athlete to be playable in game. In late April, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson saw the touchdown celebration he popularized, “The Griddy,” launch in game.