Tyler “Ninja” Blevins — the biggest streamer on Twitch known mostly for his Fortnite: Battle Royale streams — was paid over US$1 million by Electronic Arts (EA) Inc. to stream Apex Legends during its launch, according to a Reuters report.
Ninja was one of a number of streamers with huge followings tapped by EA to play and promote Apex Legends on their streams shortly after the game launched last month, February 4.
The publisher also paid popular Polish-Canadian streamer Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek, who has nearly six million Twitch followers, to promote their game but declined to disclose the terms of the deal.
According to EA, streamers from Europe, Latin America, North America, Korea, and Japan were tapped so that “[EA] could get our message out there and people would see the game.”
It’s worth noting that EA pulled in streamers better-known for playing other shooters such as Call of Duty or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
While there was little fanfare heralding the release of Apex Legends, EA’s unorthodox marketing decision to have streamers generate buzz for their game instead of releasing the usual trailer worked — Apex Legends raked in 10 million players in its first three days.
“They did a fairly comprehensive job at pulling together all of the relevant game influencers in this genre. This was a really well coordinated poaching of the top influencers the likes of which has not been seen so far in esports,” Kevin Knocke, a vice president at esports infrastructure firm ReKTGlobal, told Reuters.
EA’s stock price and market value rose by 16 percent, equal to US$4 billion, in the three days after Apex Legends launched. Since then, the game has become the rival to Fortnite, a game that many considered to be monolithic in the genre. Apex Legends has garnered 50 million players a month after its release — and though that figure is a quarter of Fortnite’s 200 million, the latter got to it much faster than the former did.
“We really wanted to create a day where you couldn’t escape Apex if you cared about games and we wanted it to feel like an event was happening everywhere around the globe on that day,” Drew McCoy, lead producer at the EA studio that created Apex Legends, told Reuters.
EA’s promotion deals with the streamers sheds light on the highly-competitive nature of the free-to-play battle royale genre. Due to the unprecedented and overwhelming success of Fortnite, major publishers like EA were forced to change how they do business — and change EA did.
Moreover, the increasing influence of streamers have become apparent more than ever, to the point that they have apparently become an unexpected, yet successful, marketing entity.