fortnite blackout marketing stunt
Student/PR

Creative Campaigns #18 – The Fortnite BLACKOUT

“Fortnite has been down for hours as millions of players stare at a black hole” the headline reads, but all I can think is “awesome!”. Because while the Fortnite blackout that nobody could have guessed has gamers, parents, and even just casual players, besides themselves. I can’t help but think this is one heck of a marketing stunt from Epic Games.

(Sorry in advance to everyone who loves Fortnite).

What Happened To Fortnite?

Well, there’s a heading I never thought I’d write on this blog. But you know, we take each day as it comes…

The Fortnite ‘BLACKOUT’

To give you some background (from what I know, which isn’t all that much by the way), Fortnite, which is a free-to-play game with lots of add-ons that you can pay for, was supposed to ‘level up’ round about now. Dubbed Fortnite 2 by speculators, the release of the second ‘chapter’ of the game was imminent and the old interface was to be waved goodbye. Though many were sad to see it go, many more looked forward to this new instalment.

However, as interested parties awaited the release of the new chapter with baited breath; a (fictional, this is all fictional by the way) meteor, which had supposedly remained dormant in the middle of the island on the game since its appearance at the beginning of season X, started to obliterate the entire map. Gamers who were playing during this time got to watch the whole thing live. However, since then, players haven’t been able to do little more than simply stare at the black hole that they thought would lead to something brilliant.

The whole program is virtually inaccessible, there have been reported ‘flickers’ of activity, but you largely can’t access anything or use the software as you normally would.

Fortnite blackout
A little bit of image context for you, just in case you haven’t a clue what I’m going on about (I don’t know if I do either)

Many believe that this is a stopgap, a distraction while Epic Games work hard on booting up the second season of Fortnite. Others, especially concerned parents who’s children have invested a lot of money into the game, fear that it could be taken offline for good. Which would be pretty shitty of Epic Games, but also like, the greatest money-making prank of all time.

And then there’s me, who believes that this is probably just one of the best marketing stunts of the year, if not of all time in the gaming world.

How Epic Games Created An EPIC Conversation

I’m not entirely sure of the motives behind this infamous black hole.

But what I do know, is that it’s kickstarted a brilliant conversation around Fortnite. All manners of media are talking about this, the gamer publications, the U.S and the UK media… I mean, even parenting magazines are joining in.

One way or another, Fortnite being ‘down’ has affected a big chunk of the worldwide population. Not only those who are devoted players, but also kids, the parents of those kids, as well as those who just like to play the game from time to time. Even people who don’t really play Fortnite are perfectly exampling how “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone” as they wish they could play the game, now that the option is no longer there for them to do so.

Fornite blackout tweets
Erm, kinda same

The be-all and end-all is that Fortnite is the hot talking topic of today. Even overtaking the Queens Speech being debated in Parliament as #1 trending topic on Twitter. (#FortniteBlackout, if you fancy a nosey and probably a bit of a laugh too).

That’s some pretty impressive news domination.

And all by taking a risk and taking down your entire game. This reminds me a little of Costa Coffee’s recently famous ‘free coffee for everybody‘ stunt. Because quite similarly, Epic Games are probably missing out on a great deal of £££ from their game being inaccessible for any given amount of time.

However, the returns they’ll get as a result of the publicity, will probably triple if not more of the money they’ll lose.

This is partly down to because of how this viral conversation has ignited. If I know anything about the human population at all, I know for sure that people are going to tune in to find out what happens. Even those who almost certainly wouldn’t have before. (I’m definitely tempted to boot up our Xbox and open Fortnite, just because I want to know what everyone’s talking about). We’re an inquisitive species and this ambiguity hooks on to that perfectly.

And as for media coverage, well, is there a newspaper or magazine that isn’t talking about this today?

fortnite blackout tweets

Whether Fortnite executed what I’ll now dub ‘blackoutgate’ on purpose for the marketing returns. Whether the speculated ‘season 2’ is running a little late, so this is their way of causing a distraction. Or even if they have actually decided to call it quits on the game entirely. One thing is indisputable: Epic Games have created one hell of a discussion today, and one that their long-term profits will probably generously thank them for.

Isn’t it funny how silence can be so loud?

What do you think? Chat to me on Twitter.

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