Winter is coming, and Epic Games has announced that Season One of Fortnite's Chapter Two is being extended. And not just by a short time, either. Season One will now end in February, meaning an extra two months of play before we get a look at the second season! That’s quite some time. Certainly long enough to get in those Overtime challenges. But why? So far, all Epic has mentioned is a desire to do more ‘live experiences’ and the tail end of the year is the best time to do it. Chapter Two started with a bang, pulling in new players and those who had lapsed@ it’s only natural that some players fall off without regular updates to the ‘meta’ of Fortnite.
The season brings with it so many opportunities for Epic to try something new and different. With both Christmas and New Year on the horizon, it’s no surprise that the developer wants to push the live experience over this period. Christmas and New Year parties will bring in the players, because it’s clear that the moments when Fortnite steps beyond being ‘just a video game’ the world takes notice: the Black Hole was only the biggest example. When Fortnite 'disappeared' it wasn’t only gaming websites who took notice – newspapers, news outlets and celebrities were suddenly talking about the Battle Royale. Yes Lady Gaga, Fortnite is a Battle Royale videogame. Just ask Ninja.
Fortnite, as we’ve mulled over previously, is aimed at two different audiences and the balance they need to strike is a tough one. We’ve got the kids who, through their parents, pump money into V-Bucks and new skins; then there's the adults who play for the complex battles and gunplay. But neither camp would argue over Santa Claus arriving at the island, in the same way many won’t object if the Star Wars universe invades when Skywalker Rises. What do these two words – 'Live Experience' – mean going forward? I'm postulating obviously, but we've seen Thanos, and it's not too wild to imagine something like the First Order arriving above the island, calling on our characters to fight off the invasion. As that fades back into space, Santa arrives and dusts the island with snow, turning chests into presents and decorating houses. In fact, one redditor has already spotted some decorations being unloaded at Dirty Docks.
Image credit: DarkVoyager
Epic is savvy, it knows its audience, plus it knows the industry. December is our quiet time, the November rush has ended; there are very few big releases, most companies will begin the wind-down for holiday season. That’s not to say Fortnite won’t take a break like last year but, if it opens up those two weeks by bringing Christmas, it will hold the players in the palm of its hand. And what better way to bring in new players who get consoles under their Christmas tree? There are even fans requesting snowmobiles and ice skates!
Reliable leakers and file diggers are already discovering some interesting tid-bits pointing to a white Christmas and, gauging the success of last year’s ‘14 days’ event, I'd bet my house that we’ll see a repeat, but bigger and better.
Live Experiences are something Epic Games has defined. People around the world tune in, whether they’re fans of the game or not, because spectacle is something everyone wants to see. And it’s easy to respect what the developer has managed to do with fighting monsters, rocket launches, meteor strikes and the famous Black Hole. And everyone is still watching, so the pressure is on to deliver. More than ever, in fact, as some player numbers begin to fall. Chapter Two was a massive relaunch of the game and Epic needs to keep that momentum rolling.
On the flip-side we’re already seeing possible leaks for Season Two, and the world of Fortnite is so fragile that it could change at the drop of a hat. We’ve already seen that with the lack of patch notes which suddenly returned (plus daily challenges) with no fanfare at all. If the leaks continue, despite pending court cases against those who leaked Chapter Two, then we could see the new season step up and drop as soon as we’re cleaning up the New Year party confetti.
Why else might Epic extend Season One? ‘What about those who already hit the Level 100 cap?’ I hear shouted from the back. Speculation is rife with the idea of Epic bringing us a Winter-themed Battle Pass which will encompass all of the holiday season into one massive bundle. There are of course issues with this given that Battle Passes are usually structured around a season. But Epic has money, and it's not beyond the realms of possibility (and good marketing) that a Christmas gift to players could involve some sort of temporary (and free) festive Battle Pass, rewarding limited skins and emotes to those playing over the holidays.
It’s worth noting that in recent times Epic has come under fire for overly crunching their dev team with constant rolling updates. And no matter what job you do, no-one wants to crunch over Christmas. Whatever this season extension eventually ends up as, it will surely bring some goodwill from players: though perhaps not much peace.