How a video game developer popularized a new form of marketing
With 5.1 billion dollars of revenue in 2020 and over 80 million monthly active players, Fortnite by developer Epic Games counts as one of the most successful video games of all time. With these numbers comes great marketing potential, and Epic Games knew just well how they could leverage this potential for Fortnite’s infamous Chapter 2 transition.
Two years of ongoing additional content patches and gameplay additions to the game called for a reset back to the accessible core gameplay Fortnite got famous for, and so Epic Games decided to pull the entire game offline for 48 hours. During that time, the company set up a life stream on its official social media channels showing an all-consuming black hole.
This is utterly the most successful marketing event of anything in gaming history, and what is so crazy about it is that most of it is earned media, meaning they didn’t even pay for it. — Devin Nash
Besides playing the top game of marketing for its own product, Epic Games offers Fortnite itself as a marketing platform for its partners.
The trailer for the anticipated movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuted in Fortnite, along with a limited time ingame event featuring exclusive items for participating players. The developers had to delay the online event by 10 full minutes because of login issues caused by the immense traffic on the game’s servers when the event was supposed to start.
This wasn’t the only time movie giant Disney used Fortnite’s massive reaching potential for young audiences. Together with Epic Games, Disney launched promotional crossover events for Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame and Infinity War, making players feel like their beloved superheroes.
Other events featured streaming icon Ninja playing Fortnite together with Canadian rapper Drake live on Twitch. In February of 2019, famous music producer Marshmello gave the first live music performance in the virtual environment of the game, resulting in 10 million players participating at the event.
[…][If] I were a brand and I was looking to reach this new generation, then sponsoring an in-game concert would be high on my list. […][A] thirty second commercial can tug at your heart, but a ten minute virtual concert, that is going to transport you, especially if it’s within a virtual world you are intimately familiar with. — Alan Wolk
Little over a year later in April of 2020, over 27 million unique players joined Fortnite’s servers to experience rapper Travis Scott live on the virtual stage across five events, with 12.3 million players participating in the first event alone.
These live events combined with the game’s free to play monetization model lower the entry barrier for new players significantly. Curious players download the game and tune in to the massive performances, and after the event ist over, they will most likely check the game out further, since it’s already downloaded and installed on their system. Additionally, partly resulting out of its free to play monetization, the players are able to purchase skins for their player character, so they can look like their favorite celebrity who just performed for them on stage, creating another form of identification and incentive to pay real money for ingame cosmetics.
This week, starting August 6th, superstar Ariana Grande will kick off a five-show concert series. Participants will receive an exclusive Ariana-themed glider for their loadout and can buy her outfit as an ingame skin to rock it during the concert and future Fortnite matches.
Alan Wolk | Esports Already Happened. Econcerts Are What’s Next
Devin Nash | Why Fortnite Chapter 2 is the Greatest Marketing Event in Gaming HISTORY
EmprendeAprendiendo | ¿Por qué Travis Scott ha hecho un Concierto en Fortnite? | Marketing en los Videojuegos
Epic Games | Finance Board Presentation January 2020
Jay Peters | Ariana Grande is headlining Fortnite’s next concert series
LevelCapGaming | Marketing Genius? Fortnite Chapter 2 Launch
Neue Studio | Fortnite Invaded By Star Wars
The Esports Observer|Tweet from 02/08/2021
Tom Phillips | Fortnite earned $9bn in two years