What Thanos in Fortnite Means for the Game's Future

"Avengers: Infinity War is coming to Fortnite."

No, that's not a made-up headline meant to garner maximum SEO juice. That's a real thing that's happening in Fortnite. Infinity War's big bad Thanos has invaded Epic Games' colossal online shooter as part of a limited-time event, which lets players battle over the Infinity Gauntlet for a chance to become the Mad Titan himself.

It's incredibly cool on its own. But what's even more exciting is what it means for the future of Fortnite: Battle Royale. This mashup shows that Epic Games is willing to collaborate with other brands for special in-game events, opening the floodgates for a potential swath of exciting crossovers.

MORE: Fortnite: Battle Royale: Everything You Need to Know

Just imagine Kylo Ren dropping onto Tilted Towers to promote the next Star Wars film. Or a spooky battle royale within the Upside Down to coincide with the new season of Stranger Things. Heck, why not throw the Master Chief inside the Xbox version of Fortnite, or have Nathan Drake join the battle on PlayStation?

It's easy to be cynical about Fortnite's Avengers event. On the surface, it seems like a simple advertising ploy to get more people playing Fortnite and more people watching Infinity War. While that's likely a big part of it, Epic deserves credit for thoughtfully implementing Marvel's content in its game.

Fortnite's cartoonish take on Thanos looks right at home among the game's colorful characters, and the Infinity Gauntlet mode isn't just a cosmetic gimmick -- it actually changes the course of a typical match by giving one lucky player the ability to wield those powerful Infinity Stones. If Epic gets the keys to another big license for a future event, there's good reason to believe that the developer will do it justice.

There's a precedent for this type of thing. Popular car-soccer game Rocket League has a ton of branded add-ons that let you drive around in everything from the Batmobile to Back to the Future's DeLorean. Open-world racer Forza Horizon 3 has an excellent Hot Wheels expansion that lets you recreate the childhood joy of thrusting your cars through orange loop-de-loops. Branded game content doesn't have to consist of cheap cash-ins, and the folks at Epic seem to be aware of this.

Fortnite is the hottest game in the world right now, and it's been that way for months because it's constantly evolving. From the mysterious meteor that perplexed players earlier this year to the arrival of Thanos, there's always something new happening in Epic's vibrant free-for-all battlefields. Now that the door has been opened for crossover events, the future of Fortnite is looking more exciting than ever.

Credit: Epic Games

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.