In-app purchases that aim to deliver individuality and variety – so-called cosmetics – recently became very popular among game developers and publishers. Since 2018/19 one game title’s been particularly associated with cosmetics and product placement in games: Epic Games’ free-to-play battle royale Fortnite.
Epic Games mastered the skill of effectively placing brands into their game through partnership campaigns: e.g. as purchasable skins and accessories (Marvel’s Avengers, John Wick and Star Wars). Exposure for profit – sounds like a good deal for both parties. But just recently a trend emerged, showing that brand partnerships can contribute a lot to a good cause rather than simply being a means of generating profit.
Epic takes brand partnerships even further with a more consumer oriented approach: beside the battle focused battle royale mode, they bring the community together by conducting interactive events – a digital truce option.
These events included live concerts or three Christopher Nolan movies in full length. Tenet has been delayed several times due to COVID-19. This event served as an advertisement as well as a nostalgic reminder of what cinematic experiences used to feel like.
Driven by the BLM movement, Epic also used their reach to give those a voice who care for important and relevant matters. In July Øpus United presented their We The People campaign to a large audience to raise awareness about the issues BlPoC face in the US.
On August 4th a new game was released: Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout by developer Mediatonic. Sixty players compete for the ultimate victory by wiggling through different mini games – the nod to Takeshis’s Castle is uncanny. They also offer costumes to personalize the anthropomorphic “beans.” Now, the developers are trying to tie in brand sponsorship to these costumes, but they are not in the way one would assume.
Two weeks ago the Fall Guys Twitter account called for a Bidding War: Brands were bidding on an in-game representation. And what will happen to the money of the highest bidder? It will be entirely donated to a non-profit organization called Special Effects – a charity dedicated to supporting gamers with physical disabilities. Last Monday, Fall Guys announced the winners: YouTubers Ninja and MrBeast as well as G2esports and Aimlab brought a whopping $1 Million to the table.
As questionable ruthlessly striving for profit might be – such actions do not only yield a lot of karma but they also prove that brand partnerships and product placements don’t just serve financial outcomes. They generate a wide reach that can be effectively used to raise awareness for important subjects and support people.
I never imagined an event involving desperate Twitter brands vying for attention would warm my heart, but here we are.