A growing craze for battle royale-themed game video content (GVC) has presented tremendous opportunities not just for game developers but marketers as well. Titles like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) have proven that video games are no longer just for players, spawning an active community of passionate spectators. Here’s what brands need to know:
Battle Royale Fans Watch A Lot Of Video
The battle royale genre naturally lends itself to being a spectator sport similar to the Hunger Games. Matches pit up to 100 players against one another either individually or in teams. The players are dropped into an environment where they can pick up weapons, vehicles and take advantage of the terrain. The play area shrinks over time and the last team or player standing is crowned the winner.
According to a new report by SuperData Research, viewers watched nearly 700 million hours of battle royale video content over the last year (from May 2017 to May 2018) across all platforms.
A majority of those hours (83 percent) were attributed to Epic Games’ Fortnite. In fact, 600 million hours of Fornite video content was viewed in May 2018. To put that into perspective, Nielsen estimates that Americans view an average of 150 hours of traditional live or DVR TV per month based on a 30-day month.
Brands are taking advantage of this growing viewership through sponsorship, ads and building communities around battle royale content.
“Gaming video content (GVC) platforms and sponsors are adapting to the rise of battle royale,” SuperData’s principal analyst Carter Rogers told AList. “Microsoft’s Mixer platform now has ‘HypeZone’ channels for several battle royale titles. Much like the NFL RedZone TV station, these channels jump between different matches to only show action-packed gameplay.”
Not All Battle Royale Fans Are Alike
Consumer attitude may vary depending on which battle royale titles they are engaged with. Fortnite appeals to a larger audience of gamers and spectators, compared to PUBG.
“The differences in player demographics may be explained in part by the fact that Fortnite is free to play, has a more accessible aesthetic and features less demanding system requirements on PC,” Newzoo market analyst Tom Wijman told AList.
These players see themselves differently, too. PUBG players are also more likely to identify as core gamers, while 24 percent of Fortnite players identify as a casual gamer (compared to 17 percent of PUBG players).
Marketing to these groups isn’t limited to online interaction. In June, Lyft let users enter a promo code to unlock Fortnite-themed icons on the app and enter to win tickets to a Fortnite Battle Royale tournament, Rogers added.
Social Networks Play Host To Battle Royale Fans
Twitch is the most popular social network to view battle royale GVC, according to both SuperData Research and Newzoo. In addition to the sheer volume of streaming content on the platform, Twitch’s appeal may also lie in its laid-back approach to livestreams.
“The pace of battle royale games is slow during the early parts of matches, which gives livestreamers a chance to provide commentary and interact with their viewers,” noted Wijman.
Fortnite attracted more than five billion minutes watched in the month of June, a source familiar to the matter told AList. The genre is growing on Twitch, as well. In June, Fortnite and PUBG were among the top five games on the platform in terms of minutes watched, with Realm Royale cracking the top 10.
“Established video platforms like Twitch and YouTube still stand to benefit the most [from streaming battle royale video content],” said Rogers. “Facebook is working to make itself a destination for game videos by doing things like creating a dedicated games homepage (fb.gg) and signing exclusive broadcasting rights to esports tournaments. However, Twitch and YouTube both have established game video communities and it will be difficult for Facebook to chip away their entrenched status and networks of content creators.”
Sponsoring a livestream or gameplay video is a popular way for brands to reach battle royale fans. Brands both endemic (Nvidia, Intel, Square Enix) and non-endemic (Chipotle, Nike) have been known to donate products, services or pay online personalities to mention their products. As this genre continues to build momentum, Facebook’s influencer marketing search engine, once released, may prove timely.
More Than A Trend
Based on growth and revenue, this video game genre shows no signs of fading out any time soon. Newzoo observed a significant positive impact on Steam’s revenue in 2017 due to PUBG and might have played a role in bringing Steam to China.
Game publishers are hopping on board the battle royale bandwagon by adding modes to existing franchises like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V.
Battle royale has become so popular that it has expanded onto mobile devices, as well.
“Tencent launched PUBG Mobile on Android globally almost at the same time as Fortnite launched on iOS, with PUBG Mobile going live on iOS one week after,” observed Wijman. “PUBG Mobile is a Western adaptation of China’s PUBG: Exciting Battleground that mirrors the PC and console versions almost identically. With the ongoing battle royale phenomenon, more mobile titles are expected to hit the Western market, but in the short run, Fortnite and PUBG Mobile will still dominate the genre, neck-and-neck in rivalry.”