Popular online video game Fortnite is fast becoming the messaging service and central social gathering space for its millions of teen and tween players, according to new research.
The study, from National Research Group, found that In less than two years since its launch, Epic Games’ Fortnite has attracted more than 250 million users around the world.
Its core audience of teens (ages 10-17) who play at least once a week, are using up 25% of their free time plating the battle royale game. This is more than the time they spend scrolling through Facebook and Instagram or streaming on Netflix and YouTube. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even noted in January that the streamer “competes (and loses) more with Fortnite than with HBO.”
This new phenomenon is changing the way consumers and brands interact, offering brands access to significant young audiences who watch little traditional TV, and opening up new opportunities for live, real-time engagement.
A key feature of Fortnite is enabling consumers to express their authentic self with likeminded individuals: how will this change the way we connect and communicate?
Jon Penn, CEO, NRG, said: “With polarization and divisiveness seemingly defining our culture,, Fortnite presents a more hopeful metaverse where community, inclusivity, creativity and authentic relationships can thrive”
Key findings from the NRG research include:
THE FORTNITE PHENOMENON: WINNERS & LOSERS
• Fortnite is the service with the highest reported usage this year over last year among tweens (10-12 year olds), surging ahead of YouTube, Netflix and Facebook. Two in three tweens say they’re playing more this year than last year.
• Fortnite has momentum: the majority (60%) of Fortnite weekly players ages 10-17 say Fortnite is on the way up, behind only Netflix and YouTube by 2%.
• Since entering the market, Fortnite has significantly changed the way consumers spend their free time, occupying 21% of total activity time among weekly players.
• Fortnite’s ripple effect is felt nearly equally across all forms of entertainment, both on and offline, through decreased share of time: video/computer games (-6%); social media (-3%); streaming content (- 3%); going out to the movies (-3%); listening to audio (-3%), and other activity such as spending time with friends or playing a sport (-3%).
MORE THAN A GAME
• There are 27 key emotional benefits that services and platforms like Fortnite offer audiences. Our analysis demonstrates that these benefits can be summarized in three key categories: it connects me, is a worthwhile experience and is fun to use.
• Surprisingly, Fortnite is the strongest performer on satisfying audiences, across all three groups, as the platform that makes people feel good, while also providing a worthwhile experience and social connection.
• Unlike other platforms and services, Fortnite uniquely combines benefits from gaming, social media and streaming platforms, offering consumers a singular experience. Consumers say it’s the best place to be my authentic self and to connect to what everyone is talking about, making me feel like I’m not alone. A MORE POSITIVE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE
• Consumers say the brands with the most positive impact on their lives are YouTube and Fortnite, while social media platforms Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram deliver the least positive impact. • When compared to top streaming brands, Fortnite offers a more interactive, immersive and inclusive entertainment experience, giving consumers control. Consumers say: it makes me feel more active when I use it; it immerses me in places I cannot physically experience, and gives me control; it makes me realize I am part of a community.
• When compared head-to-head with top social media platforms, Fortnite is a safer place for escaping real-life pressures and demonstrating self expression: consumers say it helps me forget my real-life problems, lets me act on feelings I cannot in my everyday life, lets me pretend I’m someone else, is a safe place to express myself free from bullying and increases my confidence. o Social media platforms are 12% more likely to make me feel isolated and lonely.
Brands getting involved
Last month, Nike’s Jordan Brand partnered with Epic Games to launch a new range of sports shoes, that are entirely digital on the Fortnite platform.
The move is the latest crossover partnership between Fortnite and other pop-culture icons. Last year, Epic Games teamed up with the NFL to bring virtual jerseys to the game.
Earlier this month, Epic introduced a new place on the Fortnite map modeled after the house from the “John Wick” movie franchise. There have also been “Avengers” crossovers.
These limited-time deals are meant to keep the game fresh, while giving partners some advertising in a youth-friendly venue.