Apex Legends seemingly came out of nowhere when it launched in February, immediately achieving millions of downloads and lifting EA’s stock. Within the first week, the free-to-play shooter topped 25 million players, easily outdoing rival Fortnite, which took 40 days to reach 20 million players.
A multitude of streamers quickly adopted the game and streamed it for their Twitch and YouTube fans, helping EA reach a massive audience in a short period of time. But some of those streamers were paid to stream the game, including one of the top streamers in the world, Tyler Blevins (aka “Ninja”).
Reuters is reporting that Ninja received $1 million to tweet about and stream Apex Legends. Other streamers also reportedly received payments from EA, including Twitch streamer and former professional Counter-Strike player Shroud.
To be clear, paying content creators to promote games is not new in the industry, nor is it uncommon in the entertainment industry at large. It is similar to a movie star or an athlete providing a paid endorsement of a product. That being said, the multi-million dollar payments to popular streamers to promote Apex Legends is striking. It demonstrates how marketing dollars are increasingly shifting from traditional advertising campaigns to influencers.
As we speak, Apex Legends currently stands at over 50 million players and growing. The future for the game looks bright, and it is largely thanks to the work of streamers for putting it on gamers’ radar.