Commentary

What Marketers Can Learn From The 'Fortnite' World Cup

Imagine you had 10 million gamers gathered around you. That’s what happened during the first Fortnite World Cup, a tournament that brought together the best players in the world and showed us the monetary and influential power of Gen-Zers.

Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, partnered with a group of influencers who captivated millions of online viewers. At the end of the tournament, Epic was able to offer $30 million in prizes to several winners. The Grand Prize winner was 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf.

Where does all this take us? No doubt, to understand that the influence and power of gamers has surpassed any expectations, and that here certainly lies a great business opportunity.

Technology’s development has made possible the expansion of an industry that just a few years ago was growing at a moderate pace. In fact, the gaming industry has exploded and reached unsuspected heights.

It is important to understand this phenomenon from an economic standpoint as well. It is a great business model, and companies like Epic Games have hired excellent programmers, designers, and marketing and PR teams. They have also gathered a group of video gamers and influencers — a very clear sign of the size of this business.

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But here the true winner is the business model, where marketers and their agencies will have to define certain parameters.

First, it’s clear that traditional advertising will not have any major effect on this audience. Gen-Zers, and gamers in particular, know how to detect messages that don’t feel authentic and relevant, and their reaction to any such messages could be very negative for a brand.

Second, the influence and power of gamers has surpassed any expectations. A group of popular gamers and influencers, although working independently, is responsible for taking "Fortnite" to the level of popularity it has achieved today. This is a tremendous opportunity for marketers — the field is ready to harvest.

Brands like Wendy’s are already taking action. In order to have an organic presence in “Fortnite,” the company created a fearless character based on the brand’s classic redhead girl, who became the destroyer of burger freezers — making it clear to all gamers that they don’t do frozen beef. This in-game video was streamed for 10 hours on Twitch, a huge win for brand awareness. Not to mention this campaign won the Social & Influencer Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Lions.

In a nutshell, for brands, this is not about the size of the investment, but about how relevant they are to their target audience. And this knowledge needs to come from the inside out; you cannot fake it.

Finally, it’s essential to understand the value of multiple platforms to strengthen an idea. Especially with Gen-Zers, marketers need to implement messages on multiple screens at the same time and recognize the audience’s patterns — restless and jumping from platform to platform. Knowing how this audience thinks and behaves while playing has become a necessity for marketers.

All in all, this is a time to learn, act, try new things, and optimize. The recommendation then is not to go big, but to go relevant.

1 comment about "What Marketers Can Learn From The 'Fortnite' World Cup".
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  1. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, August 29, 2019 at 2:48 a.m.


    There are a few flaws in this article.  First, it is the influencers who found Fortnite and blew it up.  Epic did not initially go out and hire these influencers to promote the game.  Individuals like Dr. Disrespect and Ninja introduced their massive audiences to Fortnite, not the other way around.

    Second, "the influence and power of gamers has surpassed any expectations."  This is not true.  I have been in the gaming industry for over a decade, and 15 years in, there are still misconceptions and stereotypes driven by the media that are just that, misconceptions and stereotypes.  The huge audience and entertainment value in streaming has been around for years.

    Finally, all advertising/marketing should be authentic to the audience. The gaming audience is no different.  Messaging doesn't have to be organic.  It just has to make sense for the audience.

    I would argue that Fortnite, with the aid of recognizable figures like Ninja, helped parents finally understand that gaming is a very social endeavor.  Parents finally realized their kids are not alone in their room on a computer - they are actually online with lots of friends and socializing in a different way than what their parents had originally thought.

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