What marketers should know about Amazon's upcoming video game, Crucible
Amazon will soon become the latest player entering the online competitive shooter arena with Crucible, a video game it has spent the past six years making and one that takes direct aim at EpicGames’ Fortnite.
Marketers should take notice, experts say, as video games have evolved from niche to the next social network for GenZ.
“Amazon’s game is such a big deal,” says Jamie Gutfreund, a strategic advisor for Anzu.io, a marketplace for brands to buy in-game ads. “There is a Fortnite fatigue that has been happening for a while and there’s a hunger for what’s next.”
Like Fortnite, Crucible is a free-to-play multiplayer shooter. Players select heroes with unique abilities and work together to tackle objectives including slaying large monsters or battling other players in an attempt to be the last competitor standing.
Amazon is promoting its game through its streaming platform, Twitch, by having popular streamers such as KillyKAPOWsk or EvilToaster showcase game play to fans prior to its May 20 release. That might be enough to spell success for Amazon. Games similar to Fortnite, such as Apex Legends, briefly dethroned video-game phenomenon Fortnite strictly from popular streamers playing the game on Twitch. Apex Legends has since garnered a strong following, capturing more than 70 million players a year after its debut.
Crucible doesn’t have in-game ads, but Gutfreund sees potential, as marketers have found wild success with Fortnite. Brands such as Wendy’s, for instance, took home the Social and Influencer Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last year with its “Keeping Fortnite Fresh” campaign. Musicians such as Marshmello and Travis Scott, meanwhile, have seen their popularity soar through virtual concerts; the National Football League inked a deal that allowed players to equip their avatars with any jersey from the league’s 32 teams; and Nike and Adidas sell virtual shoes and actual Fortnite-themed hoodies.
“Amazon has the God-like ability to see what everyone is playing through Twitch and they know what everyone is buying,” says Gutfreund. “They will see all the data in a way that no one else can.”
“Crucible represents a 3D environment of creativity, plus all of the data and measurement to boot,” she says.
Like other streaming platforms, Twitch has seen a surge in viewership during the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 3 billion hours watched during the first quarter of this year—a first for the company, according to data compiled by Streamlabs, a software provider for streaming services.
“Everyone's talking about Zoom's 200 million user milestone in April,” says Jon Penn, CEO of NRG, a brand consultancy that specializes in the intersection of entertainment and technology. “Meanwhile, there's much to be said about Fortnite's 350 million users and 3.2 billion hours of playtime in April alone."
Many agree that Twitch will serve as a critical vehicle in driving gamers to pick up Crucible. Using the streaming platform to promote its game is a smart play, as it allows Amazon to be in the gaming space while also providing a platform to connect with its audience, says Chris Erb, founder and CEO of Tripleclix, a strategic gaming agency that helps brands like Taco Bell and Kellogg's navigate the video game industry.
“Amazon is closely modeling their approach more like an Oscar contending film versus a summer blockbuster,” says Erb regarding Amazon's marketing. “They are focused on organic user growth and driving awareness and acceptance similar to executing a PR strategy versus buying a Super Bowl ad.”
Still, being Amazon and owning Twitch won’t necessarily spell success, says Erb.
“Twitch doesn’t give them an advantage over other game publishers,” Erb says. “It’s the quality of the games and the experiences that matter. Twitch is an amazing platform to connect with gamers but, at the end of the day, the games win out.”