‘Fort­nite’ adds NFL skins and gear to item shop

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Mike Snider

Are you ready for some foot­ball with your “Fort­nite?”

The NFL has hud­dled with pub­lisher Epic Games to bring foot­ball gear to the mas­sively pop­u­lar on­line game. Play­ers will be able to get NFL team outfits in the game’s Bat­tle Royale item shop be­gin­ning Fri­day.

Once a player gets a uni­form for any one NFL team, they can cus­tom­ize it with a jersey num­ber each time they use it – and swap it out for a differ­ent team’s hel­met, jersey pants and cleats.

So if for one game you are wear­ing New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots gear, the next time, you’ll be able to suit up as the Green Bay Pack­ers with­out hav­ing to pur­chase a new uni­form pack.

Uni­forms will be avail­able for male and fe­male char­ac­ters and play­ers can switch jer­seys and num­bers any time they use the outfit.

“That is ac­tu­ally very ex­cit­ing for us, with the avatars be­ing avail­able as fe­males and be­ing able to have fe­males in NFL uni­forms for the first time,” said Rachel Hoagland, the NFL’s vice pres­i­dent and head of gam­ing and eS­ports.

Although play­ers can change num­bers, they won’t see names on the back of the jer­seys, nei­ther their own user­names nor the names of NFL play­ers.

In ad­di­tion to all 32 NFL team jer­seys, “Fort­nite” also will have foot­ballthemed emotes, har­vest­ing tools that re­sem­ble goal posts, pigskin-outfitted glid­ers, and male and fe­male ref­eree outfits.

Ref­er­ees will emerge as emotes for first downs and to sig­nal touch­downs.

“It’s just a way to bring some fun and some pop cul­ture rel­e­vance to the game,” Hoagland said.

The NFL-Fort­nite deal rep­re­sents the first time Epic has teamed up with an out­side part­ner on spe­cial outfits in­side the game.

“We have so many foot­ball fans at Epic and we know a lot of the game’s fans share that same en­thu­si­asm,” Mark Rein, co-founder of Epic Games, said in a state­ment.

“Al­low­ing our play­ers to rep­re­sent their fa­vorite teams in the game was too cool of an op­por­tu­nity for us to pass up, and we couldn’t be hap­pier with how they turned out!”

NFL team outfits can be pur­chased like other skins from the Bat­tle Royale Item Shop us­ing in-game cur­rency called V-Bucks, which can be earned in the game or pur­chased with real-world cash.

Skins typ­i­cally cost 1,200-1,500 VBucks, or $12 to $15.

There will be three male and three fe­male vari­a­tions of avatars to pur­chase.

The new NFL outfits will be priced com­pa­ra­ble with other skins.

“Fort­nite” has al­ready ce­mented it­self among many NFL play­ers and other ath­letes.

Pro­fes­sional play­ers in foot­ball, soc­cer and other sports have bro­ken out into “Fort­nite” cel­e­bra­tion dances dur­ing real-world sports events.

And back in March, the In­ter­net buzzed when rap­per Drake and Pitts­burgh Steel­ers star JuJu Smith-Schus­ter joined “Fort­nite” ex­pert “Ninja” dur­ing a game­play ses­sion on game stream­ing ser­vice Twitch.

The NFL and Epic Games teamed up, Hoagland said, to give “our NFL fan au­di­ence a great way to ex­press their fan­dom in­side of the ‘Fort­nite’ game ... and to re­ally tap into this cul­tural phe­nom­e­non that we have seen now for the past year.”

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