Fortnite And Disney Could Be The First To Make The Metaverse stick

Disney and Epic are joining forces to make… well, we don’t really know. The two companies have already partnered numerous times, with several Disney-owned characters available in Fortnite, including a whole event themed around Marvel and previewing a clip of a Star Wars movie inside Fortnite. But this is very different. It’s not just Fortnite using elements of Disney, as it does with the IP of a dozen other corporations. This is a true collaboration, a meeting of everything that makes Fortnite and everything that makes Disney. It’s never been done before. It’s the future. Whisper it, but this might just be the metaverse.



The best guess, aided by the concept art showing different themed ‘worlds’, is that this is Disneyland inside Fortnite. However, this is not just a recreation of the park that you can walk around in real life. Kinect already did that. With very little to go on I might be giving Epic and Disney too much credit, but I suspect the potential for an idea like this is something we’ve never seen before. And most interestingly, the word “metaverse” did not appear at all in the press release.

A couple of years ago, companies were desperate to tell you things were part of the metaverse. It was a cool buzzword that beckoned in the future and made it seem as though your company was cutting edge. However, nobody really knew what it meant or how to make it happen, and as a result these early examples of the metaverse (like Facebook’s disastrous Meta Worlds) looked atrociously dated, like direct-to-DVD animated sequels in the early ’00s. People wanted a metaverse to allow them to live in a video game, not to live in Food Fight.

But Epic and Disney could pull this off. In letting our mind fill in the gaps, people (like me) are suggesting a future that is not yet here, and the unknown piques our interest. Avoiding the word ‘metaverse’ only furthers this, as it stops us imagining a Facebookian trainwreck.


The best comparison is another Fortnite exploration of the future, which makes sense given no one is really doing what Fortnite is trying to do. When Fortnite hosted the Ariana Grande concert a few years ago, it was a signal of what it could do. It wasn’t quite there yet – with pre-recorded vocals and a short runtime it was more like a music video unfolding before our eyes, but it conjured a sense of participation that makes up half the concert experience. The fact Grande appealed to demographics outside the typical Fortnite audience further highlighted the potential this sort of thing has.

That’s what Fortnite’s Disneyland needs to channel too. It can’t just look like you’re at Disneyland, it somehow needs to feel that way too. But for many people, Disneyland is a once in a lifetime experience, and even for superfans or those who live locally, it’s still a special occasion. It’s not just a theme park – it has rides and attractions and stores and food and characters, but it feels different. How can this experience feel different? That’s the billion dollar question, but Epic and Disney have been known to find million dollar answers.

The metaverse, whatever name we give it, is part of the future. Experts believe we are ending the era of Web 2.0 (you will no doubt have noticed the massive increase in bots on social media and increased focus on The Algorithm as a deity), and while some predict Web 3.0 will be blockchain led, it’s always blockchain advocates telling us this. Whether it’s 3.0 or even a long-distant 4.0, turning our online experience into an interlinked metaverse of experiences and properties feels inevitable. Fortnite’s Disneyland may arrive too soon to be part of this, but it feels like the first real attempt to create something that exists in this ecosystem. Welcome to Tomorrowland.

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Fortnite

Starting life as a tower defense game, Fortnite has become one of the biggest video games out there. Its battle royale mode dominates popular culture, featuring concerts by megastar musicians and crossovers with just about every brand imaginable, from Marvel to the NFL.