As the parent of a preteen who’s spent a lot of time and an even greater amount of money, on Fortnite over the last two years, last night’s season 10 End Event was big news in our house. Apparently, the rumour mill had prepared lots of fans that this would be a big change, but I don’t think anyone was ready for the black hole and the subsequent blackout. Certainly not my 12-year-old.
After an hour, the new season wasn’t live, and the Fortnite Twitter feed had been deleted other than the black hole we took to social media and news sites to try and gain some insight – us and the rest of the gaming world. But other than rumours – my favourite being Elon Musk bought it and deleted it – there was nothing.
Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite has stayed silent. No news, no updates. Even now, 20 hours after the event, the game is still down, and the twitter feed is the black hole.
Since its launch, this ‘free’ game has been a phenomenon. Millions of players, almost $300m a month in revenue from sales of VBucks and a host of new YouTube and Twitch stars. Last night it’s estimated that over 6m people tuned in live to watch the event – so many watched on Twitch and Mixer had outages.
As the site went black, and no news was forthcoming, the hysteria grew. Fortnite was trending and continues to trend on twitter. At the point of writing, over 21,000 people were watching the black hole live on Twitter. Given the success of this game and the undeniable brilliance of the game’s maker at keeping it relevant, one has to think that the silence from Epic is a marketing masterstroke.
In a world where consumers have access to whatever they want, whenever they want it, scarcity is a growing marketing strategy to create demand and value. From Rolex watches to Yeezy and Supreme, a limited supply can push up demand, get people talking and raise the price.