Fortnite and soccer, a dynamic duo poised for the Battle Royale! Epic Games, the developer of the immensely popular and free-to-play online video game, Fortnite, recently revealed two pieces of news relevant to soccer fans that shows an evolution in the connection between two of the more popular things on the planet.
I know what you’re maybe thinking. Okay, great. Video games and soccer, we’ve heard this story before. How is this any different than things we’ve already seen? Why should marketers care?
Details of the Fortnite and soccer collaboration
Before I dive into why marketers should care, let’s cover the basics. New to Fortnite are two gameplay elements: Pelé’s iconic air punch celebration (aka emote) and new character outfits (aka skins) dubbed the Kickoff Set. Hold up, what are emotes and skins? Great question. Emotes are celebratory actions your Fortnite character can do after an achievement.
Skins? That’s video game lingo for outfits your character can wear that are earned or purchased by playing the game. In Fortnite and a lot of other games, skins are highly customizable and allow your character to stand out.
Football (or Soccer to some) is coming to Fortnite ⚽
Your favorite clubs' Outfits, a new Creative Hub and we've teamed up with Legendary player @Pele to bring you the Pelé Cup. Compete to earn his iconic Air Punch Emote and the new Kickoff Set!
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) January 19, 2021
Okay, now that we’re caught up, let’s continue with the details. As part of the new Fortnite update, there are ten different male and female variants from which Fortnite users can choose. Additionally, users can select among 23 different real life clubs jerseys with which to adorn their character. Want your character to wear the black and gold of LAFC? No problem! The green and white hoops of Celtic? Fortnite has you covered. See the full list of available teams below:
|Manchester City||England||Premier League|
|West Ham||England||Premier League|
|AC Milan||Italy||Serie A|
|AS Roma||Italy||Serie A|
|Inter Milan||Italy||Serie A|
|FC Schalke 04||Germany||Bundesliga|
|Sevilla FC||Spain||La Liga|
|Sporting CP||Portugal||Premeira Liga|
|Celtic FC||Scotland||Scottish Premier League|
|Rangers FC||Scotland||Scottish Premier League|
|Atlanta United||USA||Major League Soccer|
|Los Angeles FC||USA||Major League Soccer|
|Seattle Sounders FC||USA||Major League Soccer|
|EC Bahia||Brazil||Brasileiro Serie A|
|Santos FC||Brazil||Brasileiro Serie A|
|Cerozo Osaka||Japan||J1 League|
|Melbourne City FC||Australia||A-League|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||Australia||A-League|
What’s so important about Fortnite’s soccer-themed skins and emotes?
Having an Atlanta United or Manchester City skin in Fornite allows users to show off their fandom, but more importantly, it helps teams across the world extend their brand to a new, younger, and very impressionable audience they may struggle to reach, otherwise.
According to a 2018 study by Newzoo, 68 percent of Fortnite players are in the Millennial and Gen Z hotspot between the ages of 10 and 30 and roughly 20 percent are students (50 percent employed full-time). For soccer teams that’s a core demographic who potentially represent the next generation of fandom.
Did I mention the game is free to play? So, not only is the game’s demographic ideal for the soccer audience, but it’s also extremely accessible. Over 40 percent of Fortnite users play games three or more days a week. What’s the message for marketers? Go where the demographic spends their time.
A quarter identify as just casual gamers, so the fun aesthetic and lightheartedness of the game is a draw for some – why not add in a soccer touch? Oh, by the way – Fortnite has over 350 million players globally, all of whom are now in line to see a soccer jersey or two emoting in the Battle Royale.
The latest crossover venture for Epic Games and Fortnite continues to extend the sport to video games beyond just the obvious in FIFA. We’ve seen user-generated, custom jersey skins for characters in the hugely popular Animal Crossing. The Animal Crossing resident expert here at GESM is Mallory and she rocks the Forward Madison jersey, for example. We’ve also seen teams like Manchester City get further involved in esports with a custom Fall Guys skin tease.
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Watch the below video from YouTuber VALtheVAL. Not only does he go through all the Kickoff Set player and jersey skin options, but unbeknownst to him, he points out why this is a big deal and something marketers should keep their eyes on. He says he’s not a soccer fan, but wanted to check out the new skins and find something eye-catching to use in Fortnite.
He represents one of thousands of players in a similar position. Maybe they aren’t soccer fans, but adding the Monchengladbach or Santos jersey to your character could certainly lead you down a path toward fandom and that’s the biggest long-term win for teams.
This isn’t the first time there have been soccer skins in Fortnite, but it will be fun to watch this iteration take hold and be visible in the game, on Twitch, on YouTube, and beyond.
With large media brands like Bleacher Report (@brgaming) and Barstool Sports (@barstoolgametime) creating video game verticals on social to focus on the latest and greatest in gaming, these soccer crossovers become more and more important and newsworthy as the opportunity for the sport and its teams, leagues to reach a wider audience grows rapidly.