Fortnite’s Party Worlds Crowdsource Social Spaces
In its latest move to expand its status as a virtual social hotspot beyond gaming, Fortnite developer Epic Games has launched Party Worlds – a creator kit that lets any user build virtual worlds for socialising instead of combative gameplay.
At launch, Party Worlds is starting small with experiences from two Fortnite creators: an amusement park called Walnut World by FiveWalnut; and a self-described "after-hours adventure" in a smaller club setting called Late Night Lounge, by TreyJTH.
Fortnite already offers a Creative Mode where people can build their own levels. Party Worlds' key difference in format and future business intent lies in steering players' energies from crafting gameplay scenarios towards building settings for virtual hangouts instead.
Party Worlds bans combat and destructive gameplay. Rather, Epic wants players to host experiences that encourage alternative ways for people to spend active time with old friends and new. It intends to populate Party Worlds with virtual goods, and says players' spaces "should have a high focus on self-expression through emotes, sprays, outfit changes, or other mechanics".
Luxury fashion houses are already capitalising on the emerging avatar economy. On social gaming platform Roblox, Gucci sold a digital version of its Dionysus bag for more than the physical original, while Balmain partnered with new virtual events platform Stageverse (see The Brief).
Now the value of virtual goods is quickly trickling down to the average consumer. On December 6, Zara announced that items from its collaboration with South Korean cult label Ader Error will also be available for purchase on South Korean avatar platform Zepeto. If Fortnite can compel consumers to linger with their avatars in a variety of social scenarios, it will unlock more opportunities for similar brand partnerships.