Fortnite Creative is becoming a hub for metaversal brand activations, and demand has prompted companies to look beyond Epic Games, the title’s developer, to reach audiences.
Out of that interest, a cottage industry has sprung up around a community of independent businesses designing experiences within the game’s workshop mode, similar to the maker economy brewing within Roblox.
Like the world it emulates, the metaverse is constantly changing, which means that Epic Games has to continually provide relevant and exciting activations within Fortnite if it wants to compete with other platforms like Roblox. It is probable just invest more in what you can offer advertisers as the metaverse concept grows and pushes more creators and brands to get involved.
So far, brands have been activated in the metaverse around major cultural moments, from Coachella to the release of the next big Marvel movie and new product launches, from building a recreation of the sand o2 to Coca-Cola’s Pixel Point Fortnite experience, in a way that helps cement Fortnite as the cornerstone of the metaverse.
While the number of independent agencies and creators working within Fortnite Creative is growing, Epic Games’ own internal teams still dominate much of the brand space. To handle this influx of projects, the developer has partnered with several independent creators, including Alliance and Zen Studios.
A network of creators
Fortnite Creative aims to make these activations more accessible to both brands and users. It is a workshop mode where players can design their own experiences, similar to Roblox or Minecraft. Anyone can access the program, giving brands the ability to create activations without working with Epic Games at all.
The most prominent brand activations in Fortnite take place within the game’s incredibly popular “battle royale” mode, but there isn’t a lot of space, time, and manpower for such brand activations.
“The creators of Fortnite Creative are like small game studios. We have to learn all of our specialties (marketing, making trailers, graphic design) and contribute to level design,” said R-leeo Maoate, co-founder of Fortnite creative agency Zen Creative. “There are not many professional teams, but there are many clients.”
Agencies, including Alliance, Zen Studios, Team PWR, and others, whose members started out as amateur Fortnite Creative designers, have teams working full-time to design levels for dozens of brands, including Crystal Dynamics, NVIDIA, and TSM. Fortnite Creative, which was released in late 2018, has been used by all of these advertisers.
Fortnite brand activations range from small, inserting images into pre-existing maps that already have an active player base, to large, building a multi-map campaign over the course of four months. The fees that studios charge for each project vary depending on the scope and level of complexity of the project, with some starting in the tens of thousands and others exceeding hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“There is definitely a ton of demand. What we’re working on is staying true to what we want to do when so many are reaching out,” said Team PWR’s Boomer Gurney. “We haven’t really had to approach a brand with a pitch, but once brands reach out to us, they know we’re the experts.”
how sausage is made
So far, brands seem to rely on informed agencies to pave the way into the metaverse. An agency like Alliance, for example, has grown around the idea of working with brands on activations created within Fortnite Creative. That has often meant answering a lot of questions, like how long to keep activations active and how to avoid turning off players, for marketers who have little understanding of how these experiences are built.
Alliance bills itself as one of the few full-service marketing agencies designing creative Fortnite experiences from concept to launch, sometimes with their own graphic design and in-game trailers. Have Built Nike “deathrun” maps that reward players with a new in-game skin, a charity activation for Susan G. Komen and a delivery driver experience for Grubhub, in which players embodied delivery men and competed to reach customers and complete missions efficiently.
Much of that success is based on talent: the organization is overseen, in part, by Mackenzie Jackson, who created Fortnite Creative’s first creator-led brand activation (for esports organization 100 Thieves) in early 2019, prior to the creation of the Alliance.
“Normally we don’t have to sell [our services]Jackson said. “We have more players on our maps than some AAA games, and that’s because of how massive Fortnite is.”
Marks tend to get closer Alliance and other agencies, with campaigns they have seen before as places to start.
“Fortnite is instantly recognizable to a huge number of people, and many times since its launch, it has been at the center of the cultural ethos,” said Michael Ruffolo, a consultant at The Huxley Group who has worked with Grubhub and marketing agency Outloud Group. to create the Grubhub delivery run. “Then he adds the fact that it’s a rich set of tools that you can do or create just about anything. It really allows you to do amazing things that no other game allows.”
Seeing how games with speed runs and obstacle courses gained popularity in Fortnite helped inform Grubhub’s activation, Ruffolo said. “[It] It created an opportunity to put the player in the role of a delivery person and deliver to their favorite creators.”
The creative agencies of Fortnite 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 isn’t just about creating a virtual place for companies to be represented in the metaverse, it’s about creating a unique experience. [for] players enjoy so that the company’s brand can be spread with an organic message,” said Team Unite owner Hannes Van der Haege. Team Unite worked with Gillette to create the Gillette Bed Battles map that allowed players to battle it out in a gigantic arena. The map saw 200,000 unique players jump in within the first two days of launch.
“When measuring the success of sponsored streams or brand integrations on Twitch, most of the metrics brands consider include viewership, viewership quality, voice share and more,” said Jaweria Ali, global vice president at Gillette. “With the Gillette Bed Battles Fortnite map, we can get the extra layer of data on the number of unique players, average play time per player, and daily retention rate.”
changes on the horizon
Independent organizations like the Alliance and Zen Creative cannot create their own skins or import their own assets and are limited by the specific toolset that Fortnite Creative provides. Companies looking to have their own characters, properties, or brands inserted as assets within Fortnite should work with Epic directly.
“There are obviously limitations to Fortnite Creative,” Jackson said. “But it has grown immensely in the last three years. We tell our brands that there are some limitations, but we can still create a really great experience that’s going to explode.”
Fortnite Creative is changing as fast 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 can create brand activations within the virtual space.
Fortnite Creative 2.0 will use Unreal Engine 5, which means creators will be able to modify the game with their own code. No firm 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 the Fortnite creator economy and that players should “expect some big changes” in 2022.
This new iteration of Fortnite Creative could expand the types of game genres these agencies can access. It’s one of many signs that Epic Games is serious about the future of the metaverse. The company recently announced that it raised $2 billion in funding to “advance the company’s vision to build the metaverse,” and Fortnite Creative and its future iterations will play a key role in that vision by helping more brands and creators use a deeper set of tools to create deeper experiences. complex.
“Every brand we’ve worked with has asked about 2.0,” said Alliance art director Simon Bell. “Brands will explode again once it launches. They are interested in what possible expansions will be included in 2.0.