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Epic Games took a unique approach to generating hype for new in-game content that was released Tuesday morning by announcing “The End” over the weekend.
Around 2:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, Fortnite servers went down, and anyone who logged into the game was met with what appeared to be some sort of dark cosmic scene with something akin to a black hole in the middle of it.
While many people were frustrated that they couldn’t simply play Fortnite, the game’s directory on Twitch was quickly filled with high-profile broadcasters who spent large amounts of time watching the scene and theorizing what exactly had just happened to Fortnite.
Though viewership for Fortnite had been on a bit of a decline following the World Cup in July, it seemed as though any popular streamer could boost their viewership simply by watching the ominous black hole that was Fortnite until early morning on Tuesday.
In the week before Fortnite’s “The End” event, the game had fewer than 1.5M hours watched per day, but on Sunday, viewership shot up to 8.6M hours watched. That was followed by 5.88M hours watched on Monday, even though the only thing that streamers could broadcast was an ominous black screen with a hole in the middle of it.
Following the servers going down, Fortnite’s main official Twitch channel became a dedicated stream for fans who wanted to witness the black hole as well. With a 41.5-hourlong broadcast, the official Fortnite channel averaged 59.43K concurrent viewers, racking up 2.47M hours watched and peaking at 171K CCV.
Meanwhile, Fortnite’s most-watched streamer this year, Turner “Tfue” Tenney, averaged 143.28K CCV for an 8.5-hour stream that peaked at 316K CCV on Sunday.
Additionally, data collected from Newzoo shows that Fortnite had a similar situation with viewership on YouTube. In the days leading up to Sunday, Fortnite never cracked 1M hours watched on the platform, but when the black hole event began, viewership jumped to more than 10.7M hours watched for Oct. 13.
Epic Games is known to use in-game events to generate hype for its battle royale game, but the developer has never gone to these sorts of lengths by effectively shutting the game down for more than 24 hours as a part of an in-game stunt.
The drastic nature by which Epic Games used a dramatic pause in play for Fortnite fans paid dividends for the game’s exposure on streaming platforms like Twitch, though. Despite streamers not being able to play Fortnite for a large portion of Sunday, the title’s 8.6M marked the most hours watched for Fortnite on Twitch in the game’s history for a single day. For comparison, the most-watched day this year prior to last weekend was July 28 during the Fortnite World Cup (6M hours watched).
Fortnite only eclipsed 6M hours watched in a single day twice in 2018. The first time it passed 6M hours watched in a day was June 29, when Epic Games had its first significant in-game event in the form of a rocket launch that led to 6.12M hours watched. The second was on July 12 when it released a new “season” of in-game content that helped Fortnite record 6.39M hours watched.
It would be wrong to suggest that viewership of Fortnite on Twitch wasn’t at least slightly skewed by the simple fact that many individuals who might otherwise be playing Fortnite were instead watching Twitch to see when Fortnite would be playable again. However, even taking that into consideration, the exposure that the game gained from this publicity stunt speaks volumes about how games can be marketed in the future.
Even though Fortnite has seen its viewership on Twitch slide over the course of 2019, the ability of Epic Games to find innovative ways to market it and consistently keep the game fresh helps Fortnite maintain a spot as the most-watched battle royale on Twitch.
While other battle royale games have managed to pique the interest of influencers and viewers for a short period of time, the constantly changing playground that is Fortnite continually reels people back in. This event is just another piece of evidence in a long list of creative and innovative ways that Epic Games stays one step ahead of its competitors in the marketplace for battle royale games.