Steven R. March 13, 2019
Tyler “Ninja” Blevins has made a lot of money off of Apex Legends.
According to Trust.org, the popular Fortnite streamer was paid “around $1 million” by Apex Legends publisher Electronic Arts to promote the game to his fans. Ninja was one of many popular Twitch personalities to play Apex Legends in the days immediately following its release, and he was not alone in receiving compensation for streaming the game.
Trust.org also notes that former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro Michael "shroud" Grzesiek was paid to feature Apex Legends on his stream. It is unclear how much money Shroud made.
The report confirms lingering speculation that streamers were paid handsomely by Electronic Arts to play the new battle royale title.
Apex Legends dropped on February 4 with no buildup and no prior advertising. Created in secret by Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment, the game became an overnight sensation despite entering a genre that was already crowded with popular games including Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
A large part of its initial momentum was its popularity with big streamers. In addition to Ninja and Shroud, streamers such as Dr. Disrespect and TimTheTatMan all played Apex Legends immediately after it dropped. This helped Apex Legends become the most popular game on Twitch for weeks, topping such reliable titles as Fortnite, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. While the report does not name any other streamers who received compensation, odds are that Ninja and Shroud were not alone.
This shows that influencer marketing has officially arrived in the world of gaming.
Influencer marketing has become a major force in the advertising world. This has been felt most strongly in the fitness and cosmetics industries, where companies pay people with large social media followings to advertise products rather than going through traditional channels like television and print. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian reportedly receive upwards of $500,000 for a sponsored post on Instagram.
And that's still not as much as Ninja collected for playing Apex Legends.
Though it is unknown how widespread this practice currently is in the world of video games and esports, EA dropping millions of dollars to push its new game through streamers may be the largest such endeavor to this point.
Apex Legends has remained a force even as top streamers have pulled back in their focus on the title. While Ninja is back to playing Fortnite, Apex Legends continues to attract millions of players.
Respawn Entertainment head Vince Zampella stated that the game reached over 50 million players within its first month, and that wouldn’t have happened without the game being solid in its own right.