We confess to smiling at a YouTube video published from the official Fortnite channel (then shared on socials) titled ‘Watch How This Bear Made The Unlikeliest Of Friends’. The video is a rickroll: anyone clicking through will see Fortnite’s Fishstick and Polar Patroller characters (aka the fish and the polar bear) dancing to Rick Asley’s ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’. Complete with dance moves familiar from Astley’s 1980s heyday.
This is the latest ‘emote’ for Fortnite: a dance (and song in this case) that people can buy with the game’s V-Bucks currency to use while playing. It costs 500 V-Bucks (around $5) and went on sale within the game this weekend. It’s more than just a novelty story: as far as we can make out, it’s a proper sync – not just a skin based on an artist or a dance popularised by a musician, but an emote accompanied by a decent-length clip of a music recording.
That’s sparking a number of questions for us: what kind of licensing terms would have been involved for the master and publishing rights of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ for example? Also, how would performance rights be handled for an emote that could be bought by millions of Fortnite players and performed to an unquantifiable number of others over the coming months? Those questions remain to be answered, but Astley himself seems on board. “Can’t believe I’ve been rickrolled by a fish pretending to be me,” was the comment from his official YouTube channel on the Fortnite video, pinned to the top of its comments section.