Emily Groch
Emily Groch is Mintel Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications, providing omni-channel marketing analysis and competitive insights to telecom providers.

It’s the game everyone’s talking about. With a massive user base, and a new multi-million dollar marketing campaign, awareness of Fortnite will only continue to grow. Marketers are just starting to pick up on the popular game, but due to its wide appeal, we expect to see many more Fortnite-themed sales, partnerships and other marketing initiatives across sectors in the months to come.

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite, published by Epic Games, is an open-world survival game in which players collect resources, make tools and weapons, and try to stay alive. The game retails for $59.99, but if you’ve caught wind of Fortnite recently, it’s most likely you’ve been hearing about Fortnite Battle Royale, which is free to play and enables 100 people to square off against each other in a fight for survival.

Wide Appeal

Because it is free to play and accessible across gaming consoles, PC and mobile phones, Fortnite Battle Royale appeals to casual and hard-core gamers alike. This means that marketers partnering with Epic to offer game-related digital or physical merchandise could gain significant attention. Most adults in the US and Canada enjoy gaming, according to Mintel research, including nearly six in 10 US adults and seven in 10 Canadian adults who have played video games in the last three months. However, marketing tied to popular video games is more likely to resonate with younger consumers. Among American teens and tweens, more than nine in 10 say they have played video games in the last three months according to Mintel research on US teen and tween gaming.

Epic Games Invests

Fortnite reached 125 million users globally in June 2018, less than a year after launch. In what has been a turning point, Epic Games launched a multi-million-dollar display advertising campaign for Fortnite in July 2018. Year to date, Epic Games has concentrated 90% of its Fortnite display advertising spend on YouTube.com, a site where gamers share content, watch other players, and socialize according to research from Pathmatics.

To celebrate its success and appreciation of gamers, Epic announced the Fortnite World Cup Qualifiers, where players can compete to win money at different levels of competition. Epic Games is putting $100 million into the tournament.

Marketers Dive In

Retailers, tech manufacturers, and telecom providers have been among the first to tap into Fortnite’s popularity. Amazon’s Twitch has offered several exclusive digital merchandise packages with exclusive Fortnite gear for Twitch Prime customers. HP featured a Fortnite-themed sale in June, offering 20% off select OMEN gaming equipment, while Best Buy has promoted accessories for gamers in Fortnite-themed email campaigns.

Recently, Samsung and Epic Games partnered up, giving Samsung exclusive rights to the Android version of Fortnite on its Note9 for several days after the new phone launched. (Since then, Fortnite, which was originally exclusive to iOS devices, has become available on more Android devices.) Samsung featured exclusive skins and in-game currency, V-Bucks, that can be earned via gameplay or purchased. Mobile carriers also promoted Samsung’s Note9 Fortnite pre-order bonus.

Some providers have sought to include helpful information for parents whose children may be swept up in the Fortnite tide. In an educational email, CREDO mobile offered customers tips for managing kids’ time spent playing the game. Mintel research shows that eight in 10 video game consumers agree playing video games can be addictive. Video games play a part in broader concerns about how much time consumers, especially children, are spending on devices.

Mintel Trend, ‘Switch Off’ identifies the importance for consumers to take some time off from tech to reconnect with the offline world. Many brands across the telecom space have offered advice and tools to help consumers, particularly parents, manage screen time.

Looking Forward

Fortnite may be the precursor to a larger explosion in mobile gaming, which will be made possible by the launch of 5G networks in 2019. It’s difficult to know what type of games will take off with the advent of 5G, but now is the time for marketers to consider if and how mobile games and gamers might tie into their branding and marketing strategies. Stay tuned for more on this topic in our 2019 Telecom Marketing Trends, coming soon!