Electronic Arts took a huge gamble by paying the world's most popular gamer $1 million to play its new game for a day. Here's why it was worth every penny
- To help promote the surprise launch of "Apex Legends," Electronic Arts paid Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek, and several other professional gamers to play and stream the game on release day.
- Reuters reports that Ninja was paid $1 million to help promote the game; he currently has the most popular stream on Twitch.TV with more than 13 million followers.
- Electronic Arts says that partner influencers were only paid for the first 24 hours "Apex Legends" was online. The game is still one of the top five most watched games on Twitch weeks after its February 4th release.
- Developer Respawn Entertainment said 50 million players have tried "Apex Legends" since its release, a major success for a game with no advance marketing.
The most popular new game of 2019 arrived as a complete surprise; Electronic Arts released "Apex Legends " on the same day it was announced, February 4th, with no advance marketing.
That's an incredibly bold move in the gaming industry, which typically builds anticipation for a hot new title months in advance by spending millions of dollars in marketing campaigns.
Skipping the pre-release ad blitz was a gamble, but the makers of "Apex Legends" had a secret weapon: EA and developer Respawn Entertainment partnered with a group of popular professional gamers to help promote "Apex Legends" directly to their massive online followings during the first two days of the launch.
"Apex Legends" influencers included Tyler "Ninja" Blevins, the world's most popular professional gamer, and other top video game streamers like Michael "Shroud" Grzesiek, "Jack "CouRage" Dunlop, and Herschel "Dr. Disrespect" Beahm IV. An anonymous source told Reuters that Electronic Arts paid Ninja $1 million to participate in the Apex Partner program; other partners were paid as well but their rates were not specified.
Here's why EA's decision to partner with influencers was so smart:
By partnering with Ninja, "Apex Legends" directly targeted millions of "Fortnite" fans.
More people watched #ApexPartner streams than the actual announcement of "Apex Legends"
The pro players got a chance to try "Apex Legends" prior to release and shared their impressions with millions of followers.
Rather than trying to drum up excitement for another battle royale with a standard marketing campaign, EA let professional players share their own first impressions.
More than 1 million players tried "Apex Legends" on release day, thanks in part to the #ApexPartner program.
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