What Can Fortnite, Twitch, & Ninja Teach the Church?
My seven-year-old son started to watch Fortnite videos on YouTube a few months ago. I didn’t know much about the game. I have an Xbox One, but use it hot and cold. Fortnite did catch my attention. A story about a free game generating a billion dollars in revenue through add-ons like skins and dances. Adding confusion to the whole Fortnite phenomenon these add-ons don’t improve your gameplay. How did this game get through the funding stage? The next thing that caught my eye was the Twitch streamer and gamer Ninja. I found out about Ninja because of his famous duo matches with the rapper Drake and then my kids played on repeat his cameo in a Dude Perfect video. I have young kids.
Heres the deal. Fortnite is fun to play, but it’s strangely more fun to watch Ninja play. It's a game that does require skill, and it rewards you if you play it often. Watching a pro Fortnite player at work reveals the difference between newbs and professionals. I found myself over Labor Day weekend watching Ninja watch other Fortnite pros compete for a million dollars. Ninja had over 320,000 people watching his stream real-time.
Repeat. He wasn’t evening playing the game. He was commenting while others were playing with hundreds of thousands of people watching with him. This man has a strong tribe.
Few things about Ninja and what this all means to the church:
First, Ninja wasn’t an overnight success. He put in the hours.
Second, Ninja gets the viewership numbers for multiple reasons. Being a top player is only one of the reasons.
He has a personality. Most Twitch streamers are dull. They have that blank face as most people have staring at a screen. Ninja knows how to put on a show.
He has a fun group of friends with their own personalities and often teams up with other top players. He is sharing the spotlight.
He is clean. Others like Tfue and Nickmercs, often swear and get raunchy. Ninja is family safe. No cussing is essential when you have young kids, which leads to parents allowing their children to watch his gameplay more. He does late night streams where language can be looser, but it never gets fifthly.
He puts in the time. He streams up to seven hours a day and posts a schedule. Streaming is a job for him. He is not slacking. In that ESPN interview, he goes on to explain his wife and him travel less because when he doesn’t stream he loses subscribers. It's better for him to stay home and stream from his setup versus going to a sponsor event. He makes more money staying at home.
He has an active community with his fans. He provides a private Discord channel for an exclusive chat room experience for hardcore fans that pay for a subscription. Promotes live events to meet up with his fans. Ninja knows a happy community means more subscribers which leads to more revenue.
He is leveraging each platform wisely. You can watch live streams almost every day on Twitch, he uploads the best rounds a day onto his YouTube channel and then posts clips to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. He is embracing omnichannel.
He loves playing Fortnite. The boy gets joy gaming, playing with his friends, and interacting with his community. You can't fake that love.
Third, why does this all matter to you and the church?
Be aware of how Twitch is evolving streaming. Gaming isn’t just people eating Doritos chips and drinking Mountain Dew in their underwear. It’s heading towards being on the level of other professional sports. It’s not close to the NBA or NFL yet, but growing rapidly. Fortnite has many variables throughout a single round, which I believe is the reason streaming gameplay is fun to watch. Fortnite gaming linked to Twitch's platform makes for a perfect union. If your church streams, you can learn from Twitch. Twitch it's doing everything right. Twitch Prime, subscriptions, and a bunch of other internal jargon is confusing. They are still figuring out things, but it's one of the top platforms for engaging real-time. There are a few features on Twitch I wished Facebook would embrace for Facebook Live.
Don’t be boring. Embrace your personality as Ninja does. Watch a few clips of Ninja to see how he makes his content pop. Make your church’s stream fun to consume, leverage the chat, shoutout those watching, and engage on newer social platforms to extend different elements of that personality. No reason to be dull.
Know your goals. Ninja knows his wins. Everything he does is about getting Twitch Prime subscribers up, increase subscriptions to his channel, get people to subscribe to his YouTube channel, and turning on notifications ("ring that bell”) on all platforms. He is playing a game but knows how to keep the business going. His wife is a business manager, and it's clear they know how to ride this wave of success wisely.