Fortnite Creative has become a hub for metaversal brand activation, and demand has caused companies to look beyond Epic Games, the developer of the title, to reach audiences.
From this interest, a cottage industry has emerged around a community of independent businesses designing experiences within the game’s workshop mode, similar to the creator economy shaped within Roblox.
Like the world it emulates, the metaverse is constantly changing, which means Epic Games will have to continue to provide relevant and exciting activation within Fortnite if it is to compete with other platforms like Roblox. This is likely only invest in what it has to offer advertisers as the metaverse concept grows and encourages more creators and brands to participate.
To date, brands have been active in the metaverse around big cultural moments, from Coachella to the release of Marvel’s next big movie, and new product launches, from building a hobby at the O2 Arena to experience Coca-Cola’s Pixel Point Fortnite. , in a way that helps cement Fortnite as the cornerstone of the metaverse.
While the number of agencies and independent creators working within Fortnite Creative is growing, Epic Games ’own internal teams still dominate much of the brand’s space. To manage this influx of projects, the developer has partnered with several independent developers, including Alliance and Zen Studios.
A network of creators
Fortnite Creative aims to make these activations more easily accessible to brands and users. This is a workshop mode where players can design their own experiences, similar to Roblox or Minecraft. The program is available to anyone, giving brands the ability to create activations that don’t work with Epic Games.
The most important Fortnite brand activation takes place in the game’s popular “battle royale” mode, but there is plenty of space, time and human energy for brand activation.
“The creators of Fortnite Creative are like small game studios. We need to reclaim all of our specialties-marketing, trailer making, graphic design-as well as level design assistance,” said R-leeo Maoate, co- founder of Fortnite Creative agency Zen Creative. “There aren’t many professional teams, but there are a lot of customers.”
Agencies including Alliance, Zen Studios, Team PWR and others – whose members all started out as amateur Fortnite Creative designers – have teams working full -time level design for many brands, including Crystal Dynamics, NVIDIA and TSM. Fortnite Creative, launched in late 2018, is used by all of these advertisers.
Fortnite brand activations range from small – inserting images on previous maps with an active player base – to large – creating a multi -map campaign over a four -month period . The fees charged by studios for each project vary depending on the scope and level of complexity of the project, with some starting at tens of thousands and others exceeding hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“There’s a ton of demand. The thing we’re working on is to stay true to what we want to do when a lot of people come to us,” Boomer Gurney of Team PWR said. “We don’t have to come to one. brands with a pitch, but once the brands contact us, they know we’re the experts. ”
Right now, brands seem to rely on well-known agencies to pave the way for the metaverse. An agency like Alliance, for example, grew up around the idea of working with Fortnite Creative’s in-app activation brands. This usually means answering a number of questions, such as how long activations will stay alive and how to avoid deactivating players, for vendors who know little about this. experiences.
Alliance sees itself as one of the few full-service marketing agencies to create Fortnite Creative experiences from concept to launch, sometimes complete with their own in-game graphic design and trailers. created Nike “deathrun” cards that reward players with a new in-game skin, a charity activation for Susan G. Komen, and a delivery driver experience for Grubhub, where the players play as delivery drivers and compete to reach customers and effectively accomplish missions.
Much of this success is based on talent: the organization was managed, in part, by Mackenzie Jackson, who set up the first Fortnite Creative creator-led brand activation (for esports org 100 Thieves) in early 2019, prior to the creation of the Alliance.
“It usually doesn’t have to be sold [our services], ”Jackson said. “We have more players on our maps than some AAA games, and that’s because of the size of Fortnite.”
Marks usually come Alliance and other agencies, with campaigns they see as starting points.
“Fortnite is easily recognizable to many people, and on many occasions since its release it has become the center of the cultural zeitgeist,” said Michael Ruffolo, a consultant at The Huxley Group who works with Grubhub and marketing agency Outloud Group. to create the Grubhub release cycle. “Then add in the fact that it’s a rich toolset that you can do or create anything. It allows you to do crazy things that other games don’t allow.
Seeing how games with sprints and obstacle courses have become popular at Fortnite helped inform Grubhub’s activation, Ruffolo said. “[It] creates an opportunity to put the player in the role of the delivery driver and deliver to their favorite creators, ”he added.
Fortnite’s creation agencies believe that creating a map is just the beginning; they want each map to have a healthy player base so that the brand message reaches as many players as possible.
“Our job is not just to create a virtual space for companies to be represented in the metaverse, it’s to create a unique experience. [for] players to have fun so the company brand can spread an organic message, ”said Hannes Van der Haege, owner of Team Unite. Team Unite worked with Gillette to create the Gillette Bed Battles map that allows players to battle in a large arena. The map saw 200,000 unique players jump in the first two days of launch.
“When measuring the success of sponsored streams or Twitch brand associations, most brands on the scale consider visuals, visual quality, sound features, and so on,” Jaweria said. . Ali, vice president of Gillette Global. “With the Gillette Bed Battles Fortnite map, we get an extra layer of data on the number of unique players, average playing time per player, and daily progression rate.”
Changes in the universe
Independent organizations such as Alliance and Zen Creative cannot create their own skins or import their own properties and are limited by the specific toolset provided by Fortnite Creative. Companies that want to wear their own characters, properties or brands as Fortnite assets need to operate directly on Epic.
“There are obvious limitations to Fortnite Creative,” Jackson said. “But it has grown tremendously over the last three years. We tell our brands there are specific limitations, but we can always make a cool experience pop up.
Fortnite Creative is as fast-growing as Fortnite, with each update bringing new gameplay mechanics that can be used to design different types of brand experiences. These changes, along with the upcoming release of Fortnite Creative 2.0, will give agencies more control over how they perform brand activations in the virtual space.
Fortnite Creative 2.0 will use Unreal Engine 5, meaning that creators will be able to effectively modify the game using their own code. No firm release date has been given for Creative’s new comeback, but Epic Games CEO Time Sweeney tweeted recently that Epic Games is already working on the second and third versions of Fortnite’s creator economy and that players should “expect major changes” in 2022.
This new return to Fortnite Creative will expand the types of game genres accessible to these agencies. This is one of the many signs that Epic Games is serious about the future of the Metaverse. The company recently announced that it has raised $ 2 billion in funding to “enhance the company’s vision to build the metaverse”, and Fortnite Creative and its upcoming revisions will play a key role in that. vision by helping many brands and creators use a deeper set. of tools to create more complex experiences.
“Every brand we work with has questions about 2.0,” said Alliance Artistic Director Simon Bell. “Brands will explode again once it launches. They are interested in possible extensions to be included in version 2.0.»