Players are used to taking control of Neymar on virtual football fields, but the Brazilian star has found a new field where he can go wild: shoot the mega-hit “Fortnite”.
Neymar’s recruitment is part of Epic Games ’strategy to expand the“ Fortnite ”universe beyond his“ kill or kill ”Battle Royale, driving into the sports, music and film worlds.
The footballer follows in the footsteps of American rapper Travis Scott, whose avatar performed five virtual concerts on “Fortnite” last year, which were seen by 12 million players.
The game, which has 350 million users (more than the American population), also hosted the “Short Nite” and “Party Royale” film festivals – virtual parties with famous DJs.
“At a time like now, when personal gathering is more challenging, we think it’s incredibly important to have these experiences connected to society virtually,” Nate Nanzer, head of the global partnership at Epic Games, told AFP.
“Fortnite is definitely thought of as a platform for social media experiences, not just a game.”
Users have been able to put sets of football teams like Manchester City and Juventus on their avatars since the beginning of the year, but Neymar is the first athlete with an unlocked “player skin”.
Nanzer said Neymar’s choice made sense because the footballer is a fan of the game – he streams live playing “Fortnite” on Twitch – and has nearly 150 million Instagram followers.
– Let’s meet in the ‘metaverse’ –
“Fortnite” is not the only video game that wants to expand the horizons of the format.
“Roblox,” a network platform that allows users to build their own games, was a big hit during the pandemic, and birthdays, social gatherings, and even company meetings were held there.
“It’s a metaverse,” said Julien Pillot, a researcher at France’s leading business school, INSEEC.
“Metaverse,” a term coined by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson, refers to a shared online world where users can communicate more freely, socialize, spend money, spend media, and potentially even do business.
Charles-Louis Planade, a video game expert from Midcap Partners, said the “Holy Grail” of creating metacovers is nothing new in games, citing the massive multiplayer game “World of Warcraft” that swept in 2000.
“What’s new is that these video games have almost become a‘ hub ’, where gaming is one of the activities on offer – but not the only one,” Planade said.
– numbers game –
The dream of metabolism also expands the ways in which such games can make a profit – while “Fortnite” and “Roblox” are free, users can spend real money on virtual goods and services within games.
It has also created new ways of advertising to a predominantly young audience – most of Roblox’s 150 million users a month are under the age of 16.
Brands, including Nike and Disney, have already used the platforms, and the latter promoted the last Star Wars movie at “Roblox” in 2019.
Warner Brothers and DC, meanwhile, created the game Wonder Woman at Roblox to promote the latest superhero movie, featuring American rapper Lil Nas X.
And “Roblox” debuted on Wall Street earlier this month, listing on the New York Stock Exchange for an estimated $ 46 billion – more than four times that of video game giant Ubisoft.
Should traditional social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram be concerned?
Researcher Pillot said that the element of playing still excludes some audiences.
“For mass advertising contracts, you will never beat Facebook (2.8 billion users) which is meant for everyone, young and old. You can’t compete at the same audience level,” he said.
But a Planada analyst said, “Let’s go straight in that direction.”
“Everyone will play video games tomorrow.”