Last week the Rocket League World Championship took place – and Epic Games smartly broadcast the esports tournament inside another of its huge titles – Fortnite.
With Rocket League themed challenges to be completed in Fortnite, there was an incentive for players to head to the Rocket League Live island and take down opponents.
There were also in-game Fortnite bonuses for those who attended the themed island, receiving a power-up each time your team scored a goal.
Of course, Epic has an advantage here in that both titles are owned by the developer, much like how we’ve seen crossovers between EA’s FIFA and Apex Legends in the past year.
The ability to create your own map in Fortnite has enabled other activations, with TCL collaborating with some of the biggest footballers on the planet to compete against YouTube creators. SPORTFIVE developed the strategic concept and brokered all ambassador agreements for the activation.
The land of opportunity
External brand involvement has become commonplace in the gaming space in recent years: Gucci in Roblox, Louis Vuitton in League of Legends, as well a smart collaboration coming with Marvel in FIFA 23 this year – broadcasting another brand’s content is by no means a stretch… which will become more and more accessible in the metaverse.
Of course, a game like Fortnite already has a significant advantage in this space, with the game essentially a mini-metaverse.
Players explore a virtual world where they can buy cosmetics with virtual currency, engage with other users and can now watch external events take place – the similarities are pretty clear.
In the past in the Epic Games smash, we have seen in-game screenings of Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Batman Begins and The Prestige, concerts from Ariana Grande (which saw 78 million players log on) and Travis Scott (45 million views); whilst closest rival Roblox has seen performances by Royal Blood (6 million viewers) and Lil Nas X (33 million views).
"Being able to watch our favourite game while playing one of our other favourite games during summer vacation is not something we could have even imagined when we were younger."
Michael Goroff, EGM
Fortnite has also used this feature to broadcast informative content on social issues, partnering with TIME Studios for “March Through Time: D.C. ‘63” – an interactive event that let players experience Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech in-game.
Although the recent Rocket League Live event would not have had the same viewership levels as the above, it has still been a hit with the community.
EGM’s Michael Goroff said: “Part of me cannot get over the sheer awesomeness of the event.
“Given that it is taking place in the middle of August, right before school is about to start back up, I remarked to my friend that, if we had this kind of thing during our summer vacations as kids, we would never go outside.
“Being able to watch our favourite game while playing one of our other favourite games during summer vacation is not something we could have even imagined when we were younger.
“Something like this would have blown our middle-schooler minds.”
The next level
So, what does the next step of metaversal broadcasting look like?
Much of this debate is how broadcasts will be presented in the metaverse – with AR (Augmented Reality) & VR (Virtual Reality) two possible routes for the metaverse, but VR especially has had a rough road to date.
The rollout of 5G network internet has been slow, the UK for example started its 5G rollout in 2019, and large swathes of the country are lucky to even receive 4G on their devices.
5G internet would need to be near perfect, in major cities at least, across the globe for users to jump into broadcasts and viewing parties in the metaverse.
You then have a possible barrier to entry in the form of cryptocurrency, with the metaverse to be reliant upon it – to perform transactions in the metaverse you will need to have a designated cryptocurrency (to possibly then purchase other virtual currency or credits) to purchase tickets (or NFTs) for events or virtual consumables.
The only examples of sporting broadcasts in the metaverse to date are AC Milan showcasing a Serie A game, and Wimbledon’s “Virtual Hill” earlier this summer – which didn’t actually show any live matches; perhaps that will come next year.
The challenge with the metaverse at the moment is that we don’t know what direction it will take – businesses and brands are just testing out what works at the moment to inform decisions moving forward.
Given games like Fortnite and Roblox have strong fan bases – these games are the perfect litmus test for brands and rights holders to showcase their content in a mini-metaverse.
Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO said: “Over the coming decades, the metaverse has the potential to become a multitrillion-dollar part of the world economy.
“The next three years are going to be critical for all the metaverse-aspiring companies like Epic, Roblox, Microsoft, Facebook.
“It’s kind of a race to get to a billion users, whoever brings on a billion users first, would be the presumed leader in setting the standards.”
It will then be fascinating to see how these titles adapt alongside the metaverse. Epic Games has raised $1 billion to support their internal development of a metaverse… so watch this space.