Fortnite Creative is becoming a hub for metaversal brand activations, and demand has led companies to look beyond Epic Games, the title’s developer, to reach the public.
Out of this interest, a cottage industry has sprung up around a community of independent companies that design experiences in the game’s workshop mode, akin to the creative economy taking shape in Roblox.
Much like the world it aspires to be, the metaverse is constantly changing, meaning Epic Games must constantly provide relevant and exciting activations within Fortnite if it wants to compete with other platforms like Roblox. It is likely Only invest in what it can offer advertisers as the metaverse concept grows and encourages more creators and brands to get involved.
So far, brands have been activated in the metaverse surrounding major cultural moments, from Coachella to the release of the next big Marvel movie, and new product launches, from building a recreation of the O2 Arena to Coca’s Pixel Point Fortnite experience. -Cola, in a way that helps cement Fortnite as a cornerstone of the metaverse.
As the number of agencies and independent creators working within Fortnite Creative grows, Epic Games’ own in-house teams still dominate much of the brand space. To handle this influx of projects, the developer has partnered with a number of independent creators, including Alliance and Zen Studios.
A network of makers
Fortnite Creative aims to make these activations more accessible to brands and users. It is a workshop mode where players can design their own experiences, similar to Roblox or Minecraft. The program is available to everyone and allows brands to create activations without having to work with Epic Games.
The main brand activations in Fortnite take place in the game’s insanely popular “battle royale” mode, but there is only so much space, time and manpower for brand activations.
“Fortnite Creative’s creators are like little game studios. We need to take back all our specialties – marketing, trailer building, graphic design – and help design levels,” said R-leeo Maoate, co-founder of Fortnite Creative agency Zen Creative “There are not many professional teams, but there are many clients.”
Agencies like Alliance, Zen Studios, Team PWR, and others — whose members all started out as amateur Fortnite Creative designers — have teams working full-time designing levels for dozens of brands, including Crystal Dynamics, NVIDIA, and TSM. Fortnite Creative, which launched in late 2018, has been used by all of these advertisers.
Fortnite’s brand activations range from small – inserting images onto pre-existing maps that already have an active player base – to large – building a multi-map campaign over a four-month period. The rates that studios charge for each project vary based on the size and level of complexity of the project, with some starting in the tens of thousands and others over hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“There is certainly a lot of demand. What we’re working on is staying true to what we want to do when so many people reach out to us,” said Boomer Gurney of Team PWR. “We didn’t have to pitch a brand, but once brands contact us, they know we’re the experts.”
So far, brands seem to rely on informed agencies to pave the way for the metaverse. For example, an agency like Alliance grew around the idea of working with brands on Fortnite Creative’s in-app activations. This often meant answering many questions, such as how long activations stay active and how to avoid deactivating players, for marketers who know little about these experiences.
Alliance bills itself as one of the few full-service marketing agencies to build Fortnite Creative experiences from concept to launch, sometimes complete with their own in-game graphic design and trailers. Nike builds “deathrun” cards that reward players with a new in-game skin, a charity activation for Susan G. Komen, and a delivery experience for Grubhub, where players play as delivery drivers and compete to reach customers and effectively complete the missions.
Much of this success is based on talent: the organization is partly overseen by Mackenzie Jackson, who set up the first-ever Fortnite Creative creator-led brand activation (for esports org 100 Thieves) in early 2019, prior to the founding of Alliance.
“Normally we don’t have to sell” [our services]’ said Jackson. “We have more players on our maps than some AAA games, and that’s because of Fortnite’s scale.”
Brands usually approach Alliance and other agencies, with campaigns they’ve already seen as a starting point.
“Fortnite is instantly recognizable to a large number of people, and has been at the center of the cultural zeitgeist several times since its release,” said Michael Ruffolo, a consultant at The Huxley Group who has worked with Grubhub and marketing agency Outloud Group. to create the Grubhub release cycle. “Add to that, this is a comprehensive toolset that you can make or create anything. It lets you do really crazy things that no other game allows.
Watching sprint and obstacle course games in Fortnite grow in popularity helped inform Grubhub’s activation, Ruffolo said. †[It] created an opportunity to put the player in the role of the delivery man and deliver to their favorite creators,” he added.
Fortnite’s creative agencies believe that making 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 isn’t just to create a virtual place where companies can be represented in the metaverse, it’s to create a unique experience [for] players to enjoy so that the company’s brand can spread with an organic message,” said Hannes Van der Haege, owner of Team Unite. Team Unite teamed up with Gillette to create the Gillette Bed Battles map that allows players to battle in a massive arena. On the map, 200,000 unique players jumped in the first two days of launch.
“When measuring the success of sponsored streams or brand integrations on Twitch, most metric brands consider audience share, viewer quality, share of voice, etc.,” said Jaweria Ali, vice president of Gillette Global. “With the Gillette Bed Battles Fortnite map, we can get an extra layer of data on the number of unique players, average play time per player, and daily retention.”
Independent organizations such as Alliance and Zen Creative cannot create their own skins or import their own assets and are limited by Fortnite Creative’s specific toolset. Companies that want to insert their own characters, properties, or brands as assets into Fortnite must work directly with Epic.
“There are obviously limitations in Fortnite Creative,” Jackson said. “But it has grown enormously in the past three years. We tell our brands that there are certain limitations, but we can always create a really cool experience that pops up.
Fortnite Creative evolves as fast as Fortnite, and each update brings with it new gameplay mechanics that can be used to design different types of branded experiences. These changes, along with the upcoming release of Fortnite Creative 2.0, will give agencies more control over how they create brand activations in the virtual space.
Fortnite Creative 2.0 will use Unreal Engine 5, meaning creators can effectively customize the game with their own code. No set release date has been given for Creative’s new iteration, but Epic Games CEO Time Sweeney recently tweeted that Epic Games is already working on the second and third versions of Fortnite’s creator economy and that players should “expect big changes” in 2022.
This new version of Fortnite Creative could expand the types of game genres that these agencies can access. It’s one of many signs that Epic Games is taking the future of the Metaverse seriously. The company recently announced it raised $2 billion in funding to “advance the company’s vision of building the metaverse,” and Fortnite Creative and its future iterations will play a key role in that vision by empowering more brands and creators. help to use a deeper set. of tools to create more complex experiences.
“Every brand we’ve worked with has asked questions about 2.0,” said Alliance Artistic Director Simon Bell. “Brands will explode again once it launches. They are interested in possible extensions that will be included in version 2.0. †