This weekend, I headed to one of my favorite places on Earth: A pop-up Halloween store. It’s a tradition that my wife and I both love. This year, we had to re-locate the nearest Spirit as it had moved into a new carcass of a past store. I think it used to sell shoes and sports gear. Now it sells Halloween costumes and decorations. And a shocking amount of what’s for sale is Fortnite-related.
This weekend’s visit to the nearest Spirit Halloween—the largest Halloween costume store chain in the country—was not my first visit this year. I tend to stop by at least two or three times throughout the spooky season to see what new stuff is available, as well as to watch kids timidly walk up to large animatronic monsters set up in the middle of the store. (The leaping spider this year is a favorite as it scares the shit out of kids and parents alike!)
But this year I had a mission: To document what video game-related costumes were available for Halloween 2022.
Of course, you can still find all the things you’d likely expect. Rounding a corner, I discovered a whole section dedicated to Mario and all his various friends and enemies. This area of the store was mostly picked over, though there were a lot of Luigi masks left for all you player twos out there.
Not far away, I spotted some Zelda-related outfits and items. This section was also a bit picked over. My local store didn’t have any Pokémon costumes or gear for sale, but those items are available on Spirit’s website.
However, in 2022, it seems very clear which video game brand is dominating Halloween, and it ain’t Call of Duty or Minecraft. It’s the free-to-play, multiplatform super hit Fortnite. It’s not even close. I’d say close to a third of my store was Fortnite stuff, spread out across Spirit’s different sections. Every few aisles I passed I’d spot more Fortnite. Pickaxes, guns, grenades, costumes, backpacks, wigs, and even Fortnite-themed Funko Pops.
On the one hand, I shouldn’t be surprised. My past Spirit visits over the last few years were filled with Fortnite items and outfits. But this year it felt like the dam had completely broken. Everywhere I looked I saw Fortnite. Kids crowded aisles to grab outfits. Confused parents were holding neon-colored llamas and hammers. People ran around in Tomato masks and generic sci-fi soldier helmets that are actually pieces from popular Fortnite skins. It hit me last weekend that Fortnite has truly taken over Halloween. And I’m sad about it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Fortnite. It’s a lot of fun! I’m currently digging the new Halloween-themed event going on in the game this month. But watching my favorite holiday transform from being a fun kaleidoscope of pop culture and classic horror icons into a live-action version of Fortnite every October has made me sadder than I expected. I even found a Batman-branded Fortnite skin. What was once a classic Halloween costume is now consumed—like so many other things—by Epic’s uber-popular battle royale.
Ultimately, Halloween is still cool and is still my favorite time of year. And of course, kids will still have a great time. It’s a night where you get to go out, be scary, and get free candy. That’s still awesome to 7-year-olds and 77-year-olds alike. But I’ll miss the terrible Sonic outfits and weird knock-off Marios running around my street every Halloween night, begging for candy. At least with those costumes, I didn’t have to explain what the kids were dressed as to everyone else after they left with their chocolate bars and lollipops.