Fortnite is a popular online video game, enjoyed by millions of gamers all around the world. It is a “Battle-Royal” style game, in which 100 players are placed on one giant map and try to fight for becoming the winner by eliminating all other players in the game. To do this, there are a variety of weapons scattered throughout the map, and the players rush to get those weapons to fight with. Also, there is a creative building element to the game in which players can craft bases, buildings, walls, stairs, etc. in order to defend themselves from opposing players. This fast paced, adrenaline pumping game, is completely free for anyone to download on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, Mobile, and Tablet! The way Fortnite makes money is through micro-transactions within the game, allowing players to buy cosmetic items so their character can stand out. They also have a subscription-like service in which players can pay $10 to have a more streamlined access to unlocking cosmetic content as they play the game. There are also a variety of sponsored events where players can earn cosmetic items that are promoted by another company, such as Disney’s Avengers Infinity War and End Game.
Fortnite has been going strong for about 2 years now, and in this time the game establishes “seasons” for its cosmetic content. In each season there is a refresh of all new content that players can unlock/buy.
October 2019 marked the official start of “Chapter 2”. This Chapter 2 was the start of a new set of seasons and was advertised to fans as being a new page in the Fortnite Saga. Fans speculated what would be changing for the Chapter 2 event and many famous online streamers and YouTubers, such as Ninja, were building the hype for it along with their viewers.
The Chapter 2 event kicks off and millions of gamers are anxiously waiting for the game to update on their preferred platform so they can jump in to the game and see all of the new changes made, and start playing. However, what they were greeted with was a blackhole…yes literally a blackhole that appeared on the main menu of the game that absorbed the players character, as well as, all of the menu buttons on the screen. Initially players thought it was just a quick intro for the new Chapter 2 event, however, Fortnite developers had bigger plans with this blackhole. Players were unable to play the game, it was gone. The blackhole signified that everything was wiped and the servers were shutdown. Even Fortnite’s Twitter page changed its profile picture to a blackhole. Their Twitter page also live-streamed the stagnate blackhole to further engage players and continue the trolling. “Epic Games tells The Verge that the black hole event, officially called “The End,” amassed record-breaking viewership on Twitter and Twitch. It also clocked in as one of the most viewed YouTube gaming events ever” (Statt, N.). On Twitch, there were 1.7 million people viewing this event. “That’s the platform’s peak concurrent record on a single game category, Epic says” (Statt, N.). On Twitter, the black hole event was the “most viewed gaming event on Twitter, with 50.7 million minutes watched and 42.8 million views.” On YouTube, the black hole event gathered 4.3 million concurrent viewers across all channels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n177e-XfeX0
This strategic blackout of the servers for this game lasted for two full days, trending on Twitter and other platforms the entire time. Finally, after the two days, players were able to log back in to the game and see a short cinematic showing how the blackhole transported them in to a different universe and setting up a narrative for Chapter 2, thus finally allowing them to play the game.
This was a risky but genius move from the team handling the release of Chapter 2 and the social media team. To be an active social media listener, two things must be done. One, the team needs to monitor mentions of the brand, competitors or any relevant keywords to the brand. Two, that information needs to be analyzed, and action should be taken based on the results found. I believe that the social media team at Epic Games (Fortnite) did a fantastic job at social listening. They saw that the players wanted a new map, different gameplay mechanics, a change of pace, and a variety of other things that would improve the game overall. Not only did Fortnite hear all of these wants but they took action and wrapped a story around it to engage with the player-base. Fortnite gave the gamers what they wanted, but before they could get those things they trolled their fanbase by making them unable to play the game for a full 2 days, and had everything absorbed by a blackhole.
Although Fortnite was not losing any steam in its current state, bringing in $2.4 billion in 2018 and along with bringing the game to mobile, an estimated 250 million people playing the game as of March 2019, this breath of fresh air was a great decision for the Fortnite. It shows they care, they listen, and they act on what the fans want.