Fortnite Chapter 2 is ending. Epic has finally revealed that poorly-kept secret after about six weeks of rumors that grew and grew to the point where much of the fandom accepted it as fact long before the developer was ready to announce it. That means Fortnite Season 8 will be the final season of Chapter 2, and likely the final season on the island of Apollo before the assumed Chapter 3 ushers in a whole new world.
Some players have wondered about the reasoning behind that decision: Why is this chapter two seasons shorter than its predecessor? Though Epic has not publicly expressed why this chapter won’t make it the full 10 seasons, I think the answer is staring right at us. We need only to check our calendars.
We didn’t know Fortnite was even being plotted in chapters until the first one ended in its tenth season (styled as Season X in-game) with all players and even the island itself being swallowed up into a black hole. After about a day and a half of purposeful downtime in October 2019, Fortnite was back and Epic revealed its new terminology–“chapters.” With a totally new island and tons of new mechanics like fishing and NPCs offering quests, weapons, and bounties, Fortnite’s second chapter rolled on season after season. But it won’t get to see Seasons 9 and 10 like Chapter 1 did, and you can blame COVID for that.
Fortnite Chapter 1 lasted 718 days in total, or roughly two years. In that span, the longest seasons, 7 and 9, lasted 84 days. On the flipside, half of all Chapter 1 seasons were 70 days long or shorter, with the shortest, Season 1, not even going for two full months. Once the black hole swallowed up the original island of Athena and ushered in the new Fortnite reality on Apollo, Epic seemed to consciously commit to longer seasons, but those plans were extended even more due to the pandemic.
Season 1 of Chapter 2, which began in Fall 2019, still stands as the longest season in Fortnite history at 128 days long. The second-longest followed right after too, lasting for 118 days. There was only one season in Chapter 2 that lasted fewer than 82 days, Season 3. In total, Chapter 2 will have lasted for 777 days by the time of the Chapter 2 finale, which is two months longer than Chapter 1 despite having two fewer seasons.
The combined 246 days of Chapter 2’s first two seasons make up more than half of a calendar year, and stretched Fortnite’s first seasons of its new era from the fall of one year into the late spring of the following year. All the while, COVID-19 swept across the world and changed the way all of us do just about everything, including how people develop video games. All those delays we’ve been seeing over the past few years have come due in some part–often a large part–to the pandemic and new work-from-home adjustments, and even Fortnite wasn’t big enough to evade its lasting effects.
Fortnite Season Lengths:
Pre-Season: 43 days
1: 50 days
2: 69 days
3: 68 days
4: 72 days
5: 77 days
6: 70 days
7: 84 days
8: 70 days
9: 84 days
X: 74 days
Ch2 S1: 128 days
Ch2 S2: 118 days
Ch2 S3: 70 days
Ch2 S4: 96 days
Ch2 S5: 103 days
Ch2 S6: 84 days
Ch2 S7: 96 days
— iFireMonkey (@iFireMonkey) October 28, 2021
What can we infer from this? Well, it seems like Epic views a chapter as roughly two years long, and does not feel beholden to a set number of traditional seasons. When COVID extended Chapter 2’s early seasons, Epic audibled to ensure another island refresh could arrive roughly two years after the last one. With Chapter 2 now ending in December, Epic could set itself up nicely for a Chapter 4 that kicks off during the busy holiday season in 2023 as well. With so many people being gifted things like PCs, smartphones, tablets, and consoles each December, a Chapter refresh every other year around this time could give Fortnite the same shot in the arm that big-budget games get when they launch in the holiday window.
The other interesting thing about this format, if we are to see it repeat going forward, is that Epic has lost the element of surprise. One black hole event was fascinating because we didn’t know what was on the other side, but now this Chapter 2 finale starts to tell the longer story: A chapter is two years long, and so players will anticipate a new island two years from now. But that’s not to say the playbook being out in the open dampens the excitement. The Chapter 1 finale event made headlines far beyond the Fortnite fandom, and now the Chapter 2 finale will likely do the same in a few days, as the spectacle of Fortnite live events is forever on an upward trajectory.
Though it’s not how Epic originally planned things, COVID-19 inadvertently set Fortnite up to start competing more directly with the usual holiday rush of games, while remaining in the center of the video game spotlight for potentially many years to come–assuming the world can stay on schedule this time.
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