Friday 'Nite is a weekly Fortnite column in which GameSpot editor Mark Delaney takes a closer look at current events in the wide world of Fortnite, with a special emphasis on the game's plot, characters, and lore.
In case you missed it, the often-rumored Fortnite Dragon Ball Z crossover has officially been teased by Epic this week, thanks to a tantalizing image of Shenron shared to Twitter. It didn't take long for the teaser to replace Fortnite's Naruto teaser as the most-liked tweet in Fortnite Twitter history. That's not a perfect metric by which to measure popularity--after all, Dragon Ball Z (DBZ) is an older series and may just have more fans on Twitter than Naruto.
Still, it's obvious that the DBZ crossover is set to be one of the game's biggest collaborations in its nearly five-year history--possibly its biggest ever. Given that past years are filled with collabs such as Star Wars, Ariana Grande, DC, and even an entire Marvel-centric season (Chapter 2, Season 4), that's an incredibly high bar. But right now, DBZ looks like it'll become the new high mark in a long line of near-constant crossovers.
That got me thinking: What could possibly be a bigger deal? There are so few brands that haven't already been in the game, and among those that haven't, perhaps none could be bigger. Posing this question to the wider GameSpot editorial team, I got a few good suggestions--and a few joke ones I dare not share here. The one suggestion that I feel is actually the no-brainer correct answer came from GameSpot editor (and ambulating Apex Legends encyclopedia) Jordan Ramée. His best guess? Pokemon.
Of course. Pokemon is the white whale of crossovers. As the highest-grossing brand in the world, anything with the license to include the pocket monsters in its merchandise or intellectual property (IP), be it school supplies, t-shirts, video games, or anything else, would surely compete to be the most lucrative version of said merch or IP. A Fortnite and Pokemon crossover would do numbers the likes of which nothing in the game has ever done before, without a doubt in my mind.
That leads to the equally important follow-up question: When, if ever, might it happen? The Pokemon Company, the label responsible for the IP's brand management and licensing, is owned by a triumvirate of Nintendo, Creatures, and Game Freak. Collaboratively, these three companies decide where Pokemon appears, and though there's no shortage of Pokemon backpacks and pool toys, it seems the group is rather picky when it comes to having Pikachu and the rest of the iconic creatures appear in video games outside of the brand's own.
I'd bet Epic has sought the Pokemon license already, and maybe has even been denied permission to use it. If the company hasn't formally asked yet, it's likely on the agenda for some time in the future, even as the chances of success seem slim. Pokemon have rarely appeared in games not their own. Things like Puzzle Quest and Tetris are about the extent of it in 26 years. Its most notable crossover, recurring appearances in Super Smash Bros., come naturally as the game is already a mash-up of mostly Nintendo characters. Even the tease of Samus coming to Fortnite seems to have gone nowhere, indicating perhaps Epic was just baiting fans or perhaps Nintendo changed its mind.
Could Pokemon ever come to Fortnite? It's hard to see it, honestly. Though the game isn't excessively violent, it's rated T for teens in the US, while Pokemon characters have seldom appeared in a game rated above E10+. The only two exceptions are Smash Melee and Smash Brawl, one of which predates the E10+ rating being created in 2005. I think that's important to The Pokemon Company and its efforts to remain friendly to all ages. Plenty of kids play Fortnite, but the prominent use of guns likely disqualifies it from being on a list of possible Pokemon landing spots. It's too bad, because Pikachu back bling would do numbers.
At time of writing, we don't know what the extent of the DBZ event will look like, but it's rumored that an in-game hub and challenges--like those seen during the Naruto event--will be involved, probably giving out a few lesser cosmetics for free in addition to the paid skins destined to arrive. Picturing such an event that gives out Charmander sprays, Poke Ball emotes, and other related items would set records in the brand crossover space. Sadly for Epic--and any fans who want to see it happen--it feels like getting The Pokemon Company to put pen to paper is as easy as seeing Mewtwo.
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