When Apex Legends was released by EA Sports in February, it initially set records for Twitch viewership and seemed to be set to take the battle to the other huge Battle Royale game on the esports market, Fortnite.
However, that initial popularity was short-lived and after a slew of new content was released for Fortnite a few weeks later, Apex Legends popularity, which was up around 30 million hours per week, began to decline as Fortnite held top spot in the popularity ratings and has done so ever since.
It seemed that although EA could initially catch players’ imagination with a new release of a game, they struggled to hold onto their fans in the face of Epic Games, producers of Fortnite, ability to generate quality additional content for a game that already had an established fan base.
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So to combat that, EA Sports took a very different approach to promoting the new content that they had developed for Apex Legends last week.
EA’s Blanket Twitter Coverage
What EA did was to pay streamers to play their new and updated version of Apex Legends and to stream those results on Twitter.
Now in itself, this is not a new approach to advertising enhancements and modifications to a game, or even a new game. Many companies will pay streamers with lots of followers to play their game and stream it to the masses.
However, what EA did that was very different to normal was to pay so many streamers, from so many different esports disciplines, that there was a saturation of coverage for Apex Legends last week, which meant that on Tuesday last week, it outranked games like Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto V in terms of hours watched online.
The actual number of streamers that EA paid to advertise their game is not yet known, but several sources have reported over 20 and the actual number could be higher than that figure.
Broad range of streamers
In addition to having lots of players, EA Sports also ensured that the streamers they paid were from a range of esports games. A significant number were from Apex Legends and Fortnite, but there were also streamers advertising the game that are more associated with games like World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Grand Theft Auto V.
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It is clear that EA Sports is adopting a new approach to promoting Apex Legends, now that it has an established base of players. The fact that they targeted streamers with fan bases in other esports, suggests EA is looking to increase the number of players of Apex Legends from within these groups and that paying live streamers is the way to best engage with these potential customers.
It also provides a simple and effective, if perhaps expensive, way to outline the updates that they have made to the game.
After performing well upon its initial release in February, Apex Legends slowly fell back behind Fortnite in popularity once again. It remains to be seen whether last week’s big push and increase in viewership for Apex Legends, will result in continued support for the esport, or whether this too will dwindle away over time.