Epic Games, developer of the hugely popular online multiplayer game Fortnite, remains determined in its quest to see beloved Nintendo characters, like Mario and Link, become available as playable avatars within the battle royale hit.
Discussing efforts to expand Fortnite’s ever-growing character roster, Sax Persson, Epic’s head of ecosystem for the game, revealed that while no deal with Nintendo currently exists, his team remains hopeful that an agreement can one day be reached.
“I don’t know the word for making diamonds,” said Persson, “Nintendo has their strategy and we have our strategy, and we hope at some point [to collaborate]. Our players would love it.”
A Long History of High-Profile Crossovers
Fortnite has established itself as an online phenomenon thanks in part to its continuous introduction of new character skins representing pop culture icons from movies, games, music and more. Master Chief from Halo, Kratos from God of War and even Indiana Jones have all graced Fortnite’s evolving island landscapes over the years.
Most recently, Epic expanded the metaverse elements of Fortnite further by integrating a LEGO expansion as well as announcing an upcoming crossover with the sci-fi series Doctor Who. The LEGO crossover introduced a whole new biome and building mechanics themed around the colorful plastic bricks.
However, despite securing agreements with a broad range of entertainment companies, Nintendo’s doors remain closed to Fortnite – for now.
Why Nintendo Remains Protective
Sources indicate Nintendo’s reluctance stems from an unwillingness to see its mascot characters appear on competing consoles via Fortnite’s multiplatform accessibility. Mario appearing on PlayStation and Link firing arrows on Xbox may not align with Nintendo’s vision to keep tight control over its intellectual property.
Nintendo has historically been very selective about licensing out its popular roster of family-friendly characters. So far, the company sees little benefit in sharing these nostalgic icons with the combat-driven world of Fortnite.
Others note fundamental contrasts between Nintendo’s family-friendly image cultivated over decades and Fortnite’s core gameplay, which rewards players for eliminating opponents using firearms and explosives. This has led some industry voices, like former Nintendo PR manager Kit Ellis, to bluntly state “this isn’t gonna happen.”
Ellis elaborated further, “They don’t need Fortnite. They’re bigger than Fortnite. The stuff that they do is bigger than Fortnite…They’ve spent decades building up these characters to the point where The Mario Movie can be a billion dollars.”
He adds, “They can just be one of an other dozen characters that all play the same, put into a game that’s all about shooting people and is so against their brand? It makes no sense…”
Epic’s Perseverance May Pay Off
However, Epic Games has proven itself an expert deal broker within the entertainment industry, scoring partnerships that once seemed unlikely, including playable avatars from rival console makers like PlayStation and Xbox.
Its remarkable success in breaking into new and often unexpected partnerships shows no signs of slowing down.
Only time will tell whether the sheer popularity and range of Fortnite will gradually erode Nintendo’s current resistance. Epic’s Sax Persson and his team seem confident that one day Mario may dawn his familiar red cap on the Fortnite battlefield.