Hachette U.K. has secured the global publishing rights to Fortnite, the hot video game of the moment. IMG is the licensing agent representing the Epic Games title.
Hachette Book Group’s Hachette Books and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers imprints will handle the property in the U.S.; Hachette Illustré’s Hachette Jeuness and Hachette Heroes hold rights in France; and Grupo Anaya’s Hachette Heroes and Hachette Infantil have rights to Fortnite in Spain.
Mauro DiPreta, Hachette Books’ publisher, had teenagers who were big fans before he first heard about the opportunity from Alex Clark, publishing director of Hachette Book Group in the U.K., who served as the point person on the deal. “It was a thing in my home,” he says. “Alex didn’t even have to finish his sentence. We were in.”
Hachette Books has been building a media tie-in program with properties including Rick & Morty, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Planet of the Apes. “Fortnite is such a gigantic property,” DiPreta says. “There’s such strong interest that could resonate beyond the game itself. This could be the next Minecraft when it comes to publishing.”
“Our goal in licensed publishing is to be where kids are,” adds Samantha Schutz, LBYR’s publishing director of brand, licensed, and tie-in publishing. “Fornite has quickly taken over the world. Kids are playing it and talking about it, and little boys are doing the Fortnite dances together on the playground. It’s so exciting to see.”
Fortnite is an action building game that can be played across a variety of platforms, with a Battle Royale game that allows 100 players to compete in a survival-style battle until just one player is left standing. It features a lot of humor, and players can customize their avatars with different looks and dances. The content is continually changing and growing, with a sixth season debuting last month.
Since the game’s launch on July 25, 2017, more than 125 million children and adults have played the game worldwide. Video game researcher SuperData estimates that the title generated about $1 billion in revenue in its first year, which is significant considering it is free to play and revenues come primarily from in-game purchases.
This fall, Hachette’s imprints will release a variety of stationery products, including a journal, two notebooks, and a calendar, with books to follow, starting in spring 2019. Early formats are set to include handbooks and yearbooks, with strategy guides, atlases, encyclopedias, and other reference works under consideration as well. The plan is for 10 to 12 titles per year across Hachette Books and LBYR.
“Epic Games is very responsive to its fans, and we want to give the players a way for their voices to be heard in the publishing, too,” Schutz says. “In all the books, we’re going to include snippets and quotes, from notable players to the average kid down the block. It’s an open world with lots of ways to play and we want to get across all of those different experiences.”
Not surprisingly, Fortnite has been a hot licensed property lately, with Jazwares, Hasbro, Moose Toys, McFarlane Toys, and Funko all signed to market playthings, collectibles, and figures starting in the fourth quarter of this year, to name just a few recently signed licensees.
“It’s rare you get this kind of opportunity,” DiPreta says. “A phenomenon like this doesn’t come up very often.”