Not long ago, Fortnite was merely a popular video game. In 2020 — after hosting Travis Scott’s record-breaking “Astronomical” in-game virtual concert, which drew 12 million fans and catapulted his new single “The Scotts” to a Number One debut — it became an unexpected champion of the music industry. Fortnite is perfectly poised to become music’s next hot marketing tool, says Adam Sussman, president of Fortnite’s developer and parent company, Epic Games. (No relation to Scott’s record label, coincidentally also named Epic.)
In addition to “Astronomical,” Fortnite has hosted concerts from Marshmello, Dominic Fike, and Anderson .Paak, and it helped debut BTS’s music video for their single “Dynamite” earlier this year — all of which have been critical successes that left other artists and labels eager to strike follow-up deals with the tech company. Key to its platform is its ability to link up artists and fans in real-time, à la live concerts, and with high production value to boot. Sussman says more artist partnerships are on the way very soon.
“Fortnite is transcending gaming,” Sussman says, calling it an all-around “entertainment platform” that sits at the intersection of gaming, music, sports, and movies. Epic Games is investing further in its physical studios and plans to inject more resources into music performances, he says. Fortnite alone has 350 million registered players, and Epic also licenses out its underlying tech, Unreal Engine, for other game developers.
While Sussman runs a video-game company, his background places him firmly in broader mass media; he formerly held executive posts at Nike and Disney alongside video-game companies like Electronic Arts and mobile developer Zynga. Sussman, a Harvard grad, has spent more than 20 years in media and tech, starting his career at Heart Entertainment.
Fortnite’s entry into the music space comes as much of the industry is quickly adapting to a more digital world. While video games have always shown potential for integrating with music, the recent surge in demand for digital at-home experiences have industry insiders doubling down, and Fortnite’s massive audience and immersive social elements make it ripe for collaboration.
Epic’s goal is to make video games a promotional destination for artists releasing new albums, on par with the late-night-TV circuit. “The live events on Fortnite are certainly paving the way for the industry, and they are going to get better with each new performance as we continue to invest in our physical studios. After artists do Saturday Night Live, they’ll come to Fortnite,” Sussman promises.