Fortnite's Ramadan-themed game event is a 'gift to the region'

Third iteration of Lantern Fest is a collaboration between developer Epic Games and Abu Dhabi’s Esports & Gaming Agency

Anwar and Noorah are two characters introduced to Fortnite for Ramadan's Lantern Fest. Photo: Epic Games
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Middle Eastern players of the popular online game Fortnite can experience a specially made map with Ramadan-themed events and player skins. Named Lantern Fest 2024, the in-game event is back for its third year.

Running until April 10, the new map, or island as it's called in Fortnite, is a Middle Eastern-style oasis that includes challenges designed to coincide with the tradition and culture of the holy month.

Players are also granted access to two player skins, male and female versions named Anwar and Noorah. The pair’s outfits have special details such as the Omani khanjar, jewellery typical of the region and modest clothing.

The map includes challenges such as the Ramadan fawazir, a traditional quiz-style game typically played in the region, with questions focusing on Islamic culture and history. Players can also engage in other challenges including setting up a dining table or looking for a falcon.

Lantern Fest is a collaborative effort between Fortnite developer Epic Games and Abu Dhabi’s Esports & Gaming Agency. The UAE company, which started in 2015, prides itself on connecting multinational brands to the Middle East’s gaming audience.

Feras Mansour, account manager at EGA, tells The National that the Ramadan-themed in-game event is “our gift to the region”.

The team at EGA really wanted to make playing Fortnite during Ramadan a special experience for players in the region, as well as become a way for global players to be introduced to Middle Eastern culture, he says.

“We changed the timing of events and tournaments in Ramadan to suit players in the region.”

Ragid Hallak, Senior Marketing Manager at EGA, says the new map integrates all aspects of Ramadan culture into the game.

“It allows users not only in the region but globally to engage with this map and with our culture, which is a first for an AAA title,” he says. “There is a big appetite in the region to create custom and catered experiences for Middle Eastern audiences.”

Fortnite is one of the most popular online games in the world. Its accessibility and popularity is due to it being free for anyone to play, with its developer Epic Games able to make money from selling in-game skins, outfits, weapons and features.

The game is played in multiple ways but mainly takes the form of a battle royale where players land on the same island and then try to take each other out until only one is left as the winner of the round. According to statistics from tech site Business of Apps, Fortnite has approximately 650 million registered players.

Fortnite generated $4.4 billion revenue in 2022, about 85 per cent of its publisher Epic Games's total revenue during that year. Late last year, gaming lounge operator True Gamers reported that 32 per cent of players preferred to play Fortnite over other games. The second game on the list was Roblox at 14 per cent.

On Fortnite’s popularity in the region, Mansour says its due to the ever-changing nature of the game. “Every three months comes a new season in the game, that brings new maps, new skins, new weapons,” he says.

Another aspect that keeps the game popular is the introduction of various beloved characters into the game, these include figures from Star Wars, Marvel and DC comics among others. Celebrities have also shared their likeness to be played with in the game. The latest being rapper Eminem and pop star Lady Gaga.

John Adel, Marketing and Community Specialist at EGA, is particularly proud of the inclusion of Arab character skins in the game with Lantern Fest’s Anwar and Noorah.

“When you open the game and you can find Eminem and then you can find Anwar next to him, this shows the amount of work that we've put into it,” he says.

Updated: April 04, 2024, 11:45 AM