The Drum | Nike Kicks Off Multiyear Epic Games Partnership With ‘Airphoria’ In Fortnite

The new virtual experience marks the athletic apparel company’s latest effort to stake its claim in the immensely popular gaming sector.

Nike is taking yet another step into the world of gaming with the launch of “Airphoria,” a new branded experience hosted on Fortnite. The athletic apparel giant announced in a press release that the “first-of-its-kind immersive gaming experience” is kicking off “a multiyear partnership with [Fortnite creator] Epic Games.”

Gameplay footage of the new Airphoria experience shows a virtual, floating city, the aesthetic for which has been modeled after the iconic Nike Air Max shoe (picture a Nike-ified Cloud City from Star Wars). Visitors will be challenged to retrieve five “Air Max Grails” from a drone-equipped villain named Maxxed Out Max.

Nike’s new Fortnite experience was created using Unreal Editor for Fortnite (UEFN), an application developed by Epic Games which enables individuals and brands to create and publish their own experiences directly to Fortnite.

“Airphoria represents a new, immersive experience for Nike as it amplifies its efforts in gaming and virtual products,” Ron Faris, Vice-president and General Manager of Nike Virtual Studios, said in a statement “As digital and physical worlds become more seamless across the products and experiences we offer, we’re always seeking authentic ways to deepen our connection with fans, expand access points to Nike across our digital ecosystem and inspire a love of sport and play. What’s more, Nike is one of the first brands to use Epic Games’ Unreal Editor for Fortnite to build Airphoria, paving the way for a continued partnership that will further unlock the future of gaming.”

Nike first teased its new “ultimate Sneakerhunt” and collaboration with Epic Games in an official tweet on Friday.

This isn’t Nike’s first foray into the gaming sector. In November 2021, the brand launched Nikeverse, a virtual experience hosted in Roblox where visitors can try on virtual sneakers, play games and more. Nike claimed that around 7mn people visited Nikeverse within the first five months after it was launched.

The brand is also leaning into Web3 with the release of .Swoosh, a platform which is currently in closed beta and which is intended to give members the opportunity to collaborate on the design of Nike products.

Fortnite, an online video game platform which reportedly has around 400mn registered users (the majority of which are between the ages of 18 and 24), has become something of a magnet for brands that are looking to break into the immensely popular gaming sector and the so-called metaverse. Axe, for example, launched its own branded experience in Fortnite last June called “The Mistaverse.” The Wu-Tang Clan, Polo Ralph Lauren, the National Football League and many others have launched similar collaborations with the gaming platform.

Airphoria is accessible now through 8pm ET next Monday, July 27.

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