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ESPN’s Fortnite tweet is an abomination of brand desperation

A Fortnite tweet for 1337 kidz who love to rofl

Fortnite - woman standing on a wooden structure with a sniper rifle Epic Games
Chris Plante co-founded Polygon in 2012 as editor-at-large and is now editor-in-chief. He also created and occasionally teaches NYU’s Introduction to Games Journalism course.

Fortnite Battle Royale has reached a new phase in its mainstream popularity: brands now need Fortnite more than Fortnite needs brands. Arguably, Drake appearing in Ninja’s Fortnite Twitch stream marked this transition, with Fortnite and Drake mutually benefiting from each other’s celebrity. But now Fortnite is so big that companies like ESPN, the biggest sports network on television, are groveling for its attention — and its fanbase.

Following Villanova beating Kansas in tonight’s men’s Final Four matchup, ESPN tweeted a tacky animated video in which the letters K and U explode, leaving behind a V. The structures are built inside the world of Fortnite.

See for yourself.

Debatably worse than the video is the accompanying text: “Villanova rained 3s like they were supply drops.” Supply drops aren’t particularly common in Fortnite. Even in Fortnite Battle Royale’s Blitz Mode, supply drops aren’t so abundant as to lose their preciousness. So if it rained 3s like supply drops, well, that sounds like not a lot of 3s.

This is the new normal for Fortnite. Surely the weeks to come will feature similarly nonsensical attempts to hop on the bandwagon by fast-food chains and home cleaning supply brands. Over the next couple months, I suspect we’ll move through the remaining phases of any true megahit: rumors of a Hollywood film adaptation, rushed pop-philosophy coffee table books and, of course, an on-the-nose couch gag on The Simpsons.

So it is, so it will always be: Wherever there is a fresh trend beloved by teens, there must arrive a flock of adults, eager to pry the remaining meat from the bone.

Correction (April 1, 2:33 p.m. ET): The article originally described the art as looking similar to Fortnite. It has been corrected to clarify that the video is using real Fortnite assets.

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