Not too long ago, an online video game named Minecraft, was the ‘King’ of gaming, being the most popular game in the world since its introduction back in 2009. Then along came Fortnite by Epic Games, another free-to-play online video game having racked up 2.4 billion YouTube views in February, eclipsing the former leader for the first time as the most popular game.
Most readers may have heard of Fortnite but if you have not, now you do. It is about surviving a zombie-infested world while the player would collect and build on things and it comes in 2 versions but its Battle Royale version became a resounding success, drawing in more than 125 million players in less than a year, and earning hundreds of millions of dollars per month, and since has been a cultural phenomenon.
Beyond gaming though, the question is how does this unknown title, within such a short time managed to become number one, a feat hundreds of other titles failed to achieve? Granted in Epic’s own admission that they too did some traditional marketing with teasers and trailers which achieved a “few millions” of views that is normal in the video gaming world. But they did not rest and continually looked for opportunities to flesh out its own online video strategy. 

In Q2 2018, Epic Games released six videos about upcoming in-game content and upgrades called “New Item” strategy. This Fortnite marketing strategy paid off on their proprietary YouTube channel, which gained 60% from the clips alone. Despite, none of these could ever manage to elevate Fortnite onto the pedestal of the Kings. To say the least, it was without a doubt their video strategy but one that is with an unexpected twist.
Unconventional Video Strategy
To better understand what kinds of Fortnite videos that have set Epic on fire burning Minecraft and many others along the way, we need to begin by knowing what Fortnite is about (for the benefit of the uninspired) “Fortnite Battle Royale – Gameplay Trailer (Play Free Now!)”
Fortnite basically ignored how other online video games were marketed traditionally and engaged the unconventional (in gaming) user-generated content and involved heavily with social media video strategy. Epic Games announced a contest for players called Fortnite Dance Challenge or better known as FDC, to submit a video of their own smooth moves, and the best dance would forever be immortalized into the game, while the top one hundred entries get in-game currency. The dances were to be uploaded to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. This sets off one of the most participated dance challenges on YouTube, ever. The unexpected top 100 entries affectionately called “Fortnite fails” became one of the hottest trends in the first quarter of the year, crushing 726 million views on YouTube alone. You literally watch people dancing along with the Fortnite characters performing the craziest dance moves and everyone were just having a blast.
The ‘science’ behind what makes these videos worked? They were crossing genres from gameplay, vlogs to entertainment; essentially appealing to both gamers and non-gamers on a platform that leveraged on social connections. It combined two popular and engaging trends, K-pop music and gaming via online video and a generous quantity of fun. This resulted with an incredible marketing strategy on video and the rest is as cliche as it sounds, is history.
Brands Can Learn
There are lessons to be learned from such planned but unsuspected success with Fortnite. It is clear that Epic Games knows their target audience well and understands the broader trends aside from the gaming industry. They paid close attention to the fans on social media, gamers or otherwise combining a few elements; gameplay, video, social sharing, viral entertainment, engagement, participation and family fun time. Eventually, it created the ‘perfect storm’. In summary, the success of Fortnite and Epic Games is about a company that made an unconventional decision to execute a well-planned video strategy and then marketed it well while leveraging on the popular social media platforms. Isn’t it time your brand takes a bold move to create a video strategy of your own, one that reflects your brand’s true identity? It may just take off.