Good Fun… or Gambling? Micro transactions in ‘FIFA 18’ 

Many of you, just like me, have been playing FIFA religiously since the days before Ms Dynamite lit up the games’ soundtrack back in 2003. However, despite the countless hours played or numerous controllers broken, it seems the game we all know and love may be losing the charm that kept us coming back.

Don’t get me wrong, the game is by no means in decline, the numbers show that. FIFA 18 managed to sell  a whopping 10 million units worldwide and ever since EA released the first ‘FIFA International Soccer’ back in 1993 they have managed to have pretty much uninterrupted market dominance over football gaming. EA churned out classic after classic each year, making it clear they were focused on creating a game that simulated every aspect of the sport in the right way. This is where their famous catchphrase “EA Sports: It’s in the game” originates.

But there’s something new “in the game”…  and it is micro transactions.

If you’ve played pretty much any of EA’s releases in the past few years then you’ll certainly know what these are, but if you haven’t, they are essentially any purchase you make inside of a game, after the initial purchase. FIFA use these to sell FIFA points, a digital currency for Ultimate Team. In fact, EA earned $1.68 billion through micro transactions in 2017 alone.

You can’t deny that these massive digital sales are impressive and they have undoubtedly revolutionized the gaming industry as a whole.

It’s forecasted that 2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $137.9 billion on games in 2018. This represents an increase of +13.3% from the year before, or $16.2 billion.

Micro transactions are the leading force behind this and have become a great source of income for developers, thanks to our ever increasingly digitized society.

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Photo by Soumil Kumar on

So what’s the issue?

Well… this isn’t the first time FIFA have used digital currency and micro transactions for their Ultimate team platform, however, many players are becoming aggravated with the reliability of micro transaction drop rates.  Meaning that some players could spend thousands and get nothing good and another player could spend £3 and get the best player in the world. This has lead to a growing narrative that FIFA has become a ‘pay-to-win’ game and therefore spending more and more money has become a necessity to be competitive.

Could this be dangerous?

Chris Lee, Hawaiian state representative, held a press conference where he labelled micro transactions as ‘predatory gaming’ , and he is currently working on legislation to ban children from buying them. On top of this, in a recent Reddit post , he added that ‘these kinds of micro transactions are explicitly designed to prey upon and exploit human psychology in the same way casino games are designed’.

According to the NPD, 91 % of children age 2-17 play video games… and these numbers are rising, coming up nearly 13 percent from 2009. The gaming community clearly has large number of minors within it, which only seems to be growing, so could these shifts towards micro transactions be influencing them? Could this be installing bad gambling habits in the kids? I guess only time will tell.

For now, you may be interested in a Reddit post and campaign called #FixFifa that has been gaining a lot of backing online. This movement has also gained over 40,000 signatures through their petition.

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Photo by Tookapic on











The impact of Crowdfunding on the Music Industry? ‘A look at Amanda Palmer’

With crowd funding platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundme and Indigogo growing and becoming increasingly influential in the creative industries, could crowdfunding be the future for music artists?

The meteoric rise of the internet and the rapid digitization of society have clearly had a massive effect on the music scene… however so has crowdfunding and similarly, it’s difficult to determine whether this impact is positive or negative.

Artists have been using Crowdfunding to defy the conventions of music labels

The best example of this has to be the case of Amanda Palmer. The musician whose Kickstarter project closed after it managed to successfully raise $1.2 million, making it the 7th Kickstarter project to reach $1 million and the highest funded music project the site had ever had.

Amanda broke with her label back in 2010; because of this she decided to start a project with a $100,000 goal to fund her album, an art book and a tour. She obviously smashed this goal, with most of the funders donating less than $100 but there were also a small amount of much larger pledges. For example, two people who actually pledged around $10,000 each for a personal art sitting with Amanda, followed by dinner.

Palmer has revealed that she had just shy of $100,000 left from the extremely lucrative campaign after she finished completing the album and the art book; made all of the arrangements for music videos and tours and finally made sure she has paid the featuring artists. This is just one example out of many that proves that when everything goes right, crowdfunding can be very powerful. Although Amanda believes the biggest success is the plain, hard evidence that ‘major label refugees’ can utilise Kickstarter as a primary source of funding.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on

Fans are using Crowdfunding too!

Artists are not the only ones that are deciding to make the most out of the crowdfunding platform. There has been a surge of fan led campaigns being created, in the hope of convincing their favourite artists to create.

A funny example of this happenend with Run The Jewels, a hip hop duo from America, when they revealed various ways in which fans could buy their new album, Run The Jewels 2. The jokingly mentioned the idea of paying $40,000 for the two to completely reshape the album, taking out all the instrumental sounds and replacing them with cat noises.

Fans, however, could not resist the temptation and so then arrived the ‘Meow the Jewels’ Kickstarter campaign to back this idea. Hilariously, the duo was up for it if the 40k target was met. The campaign managed to gather over $60,000 and attracted other major producers to the project such as The Alchemist and Just Blaze.

Another interesting example of this fan intervention  was back in 2014,  where big Foo Fighter fans from Virginia created a page on Crowdtilt, that sold tickets to a performance that the band had no idea of, praying that the band would see the demand for the show and decide to go ahead and play it. It turns out they saw the page and wanted to do it! It became their first show in the particular town in Virginia for 16 years.

These are just a few examples of successes of crowdfunding, but unfortunately it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.

Is Crowdfunding good for the industry?

Some people argue that with the crowdfunding model, young artist are able to get the their money way before they have even created any music, so this could potentially deter them from putting in the valuable hard work needed to create a good product. Artists could become lazy.

Although, crowdfunding is helping major label rejects, independent artists and small record companies to grow and be able to raise substantial amounts of money that they may not have been able to before. This sways me to believe that overall, crowdfunding is an asset to the music industry and a potential game changer for the future.

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Photo by Josh Sorenson on


Hooray for Vinyl! Cardiff Celebrates Music for Record Store Day 2018

Record Store Day. It’s a wonderful day of celebrating music, vinyl, indie-artists and those gorgeous special edition releases. What’s not to love?

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Courtesy of GIPHY

This year, Cardiff celebrated hard as usual. Being the proud home of Spiller’s Records – the oldest record store in the world(!) – it’s not surprising that the day was a hit with music fans in the city.

Cardiff is bursting with creativity, and its music scene is thriving. You may be familiar with the Womanby Street campaign, which had people coming together to shout a big F*** YOU to businesses that threatened Cardiff’s well-loved street of independent music.

With annual events like Sŵn Fest and Xpresstival (to name a few!), it was no surprise that Cardiff got creative when it came to Record Store Day! Here’s what I checked out on the day:

Spillers Records

Spillers pic - Flickr Martin Thomas
Courtesy of Martin Thomas, Flickr

With queues out the door almost all day, Spillers was the place to be on RSD! Jam-packed with musicians, DJ’s and new special releases, the store was a haven for any music fan.

Spillers was even blessed with a special appearance by BBC 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne! Taking her show on the road, Lauren came to Cardiff to talk all things vinyl and chat to visitors of the store about why RSD is such an important event to celebrate.

Once again, Record Store Day was a success for Spillers. Keep on keeping on, we love you!

Kellys Records

Another of Cardiff’s successful and loved record stores, Kellys made sure they were in on the action! Spoiling us with live performances, special offers and even an all-day broadcast hosted by Sounds Like Radio, the vibe was incredible.

And what’s RSD without some turntable action? The following acts got behind the decks to show us their magic: Gruff Rhys (Super Furry Animals) • Don Leisure (Darkhouse Family) • NOTSOEVER • Dj Enzine • The Kellys Staff

Thanks, Kellys – it was a blast!

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Courtesy of GIPHY

Hard Lines

Perhaps my favourite independent coffee shop in Cardiff, Hard Lines is a quirky gem located in the centre of the Castle Emporium. Their ‘Instagram famous’ pink coffee, delicious vegan treats and selection of records for sale have reeled in quite the fanbase.

However, many were disappointed to hear that Hard Lines were not allowed to take part in Record Store Day 2018. While ordering a coffee I asked a barista what it was all about.

Me: you’ve been involved before, right?

Him: yeah, we were part of it last year and possibly the year before.

Me: So why weren’t you allowed this year?

Him: We didn’t sell enough vinyls – or at least that’s how the worded it.

Me: But you still celebrated…

Him: Yeah, didn’t stop us from having a party! A lot of people came down, it was still really busy. I think we did just as well – we still had a good time and people enjoyed it.

When I popped into Hard Lines for RSD (and a piece of vegan pistachio cake) there were lights, crowds, a DJ… the party was definitely still happening. Thanks to a bit of creative work, the Hard Lines staff showed that imagination and spirit are what really makes a modern business thrive!

It’s sad to see Record Store Day 2018 pass already, but I’m glad to have been a part of it. Seeing independent artists share a love of the beautiful physicality that is a vinyl record, the day really symbolises the art and creativity that is so prominent in the music industry. Until next year!


Featured photograph courtesy of Goodwines, Flickr

Penguin Moderns – Books for the Millennial Generation?

Raise your hands if you like books. Now raise your hand if you like books that are small, aesthetic and affordable. Well you’re in luck – Penguin have recently released the new Penguin Modern collection, and it’s rather beautiful!

Released in February 2018, the Penguin Modern collection features a series of 50 titles each offering ‘a concentrated hit of its author’s work’. Waterstones call it a gateway to ground-breaking thought, with a selection of twentieth-century authors that includes Franz Kafka, John Steinbeck and George Orwell. Titles cover fiction, poetry and even blues lyrics! Interested yet?

It gets better… Each book is practically pocket sized, a gorgeous shade of duck-egg blue and they only cost £1 each! Yes, really!



photographs my own

I first stumbled across these lovely bits of literature in Blackwell’s bookstore in Cardiff University’s SU and knew I just had to get one (at least to start…). After my purchase – Franz Kafka’s Investigations of a Dog, which has modelled for my photos – I couldn’t stop picking it up and admiring it. Which got me thinking…

What is it about these little books that makes them so instantly attractive? What made me buy this book rather than any other, without any hesitation? I started to realise that Penguin may have aimed to target their new collection at people like me – the 20 something student that doesn’t always have the time and money to commit to larger books.

If, like me, you’re a millennial you may be familiar with the following thoughts:

  • I won’t spend longer on this than I have to
  • money?? Where does it come from?? Where does it go??
  • That’s pretty and I want it

We get a lot of hate, sure. But we’re also straight to the point, tech-savvy and importantly, creative. And we THRIVE on stuff that sets off our ‘creative radar’. So when something comes along that ticks all the boxes – quick, cheap and pretty – it gets us in the creative mood. And companies know this, which is why the Penguin Moderns are such a hit with the younger generation:

Exactly how does a book make us feel more creative? For starters, the aesthetic appeal of the books screams Instagram – just a quick search of the hashtag #penguinmodern returns some gorgeous pastel results. The minimalist design even got me in the mood to get out my sketchbook:

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photograph my own

Designed by Joseph Botcherby, the sleek and minimalist look is certainly in right now and Generation X can’t get enough. If in doubt, just take a peek in any high-street shop from Urban Outfitters to Primark and soak up the minimalist goodness! Botcherby talks about his design and being approached by Penguin:

“I wanted the graphic approach to be clean and simple, playing with colours and font treatments not too far away from their classic mainline branding – colour update: duck egg blue instead of turquoise, using a slightly more contemporary font”

It’s the contemporary creative economy in a nutshell, and it’s brilliant. It engages young people with the beauty of classic and contemporary authors without breaking the bank or taking up too much of our precious time. Speaking to a lovely and enthusiastic staff member in Cardiff University’s Blackwell’s, I discovered the collection has been hugely popular since its arrival. She mentioned:

“they’re pretty and all the same colour, so they look really nice on a bookshelf. Students definitely buy them for pleasure rather than studying.”

So if you haven’t already, go and pick up your very own Penguin Modern and inspire your inner creative!

SUPERHOT proves that crowdfunding rewards creativity – developers take note

Image: PlayStation Store 

The genius viral marketing campaign behind SUPERHOT caught my eye back at its release in 2016 – but I never had the time to experience it properly. What better time to revisit this indie gem and see if it’s worth the hype? Honestly, I’ve never played anything like it, and I have crowdfunding to thank for this incredibly unique game.

A one-of-a-kind experience

In a world full of generic, drab, first-person shooters, SUPERHOT sticks out like a sore thumb – not only is it bold and red, it’s minimalist, futuristic aesthetic distinguishing it from the competition – but its core gameplay couldn’t be further from your typical, run-of-the-mill corridor shooters.

The indie developers behind SUPERHOT always aimed for a unique first-person shooter experience that doesn’t rely on lightning-fast reflexes and hours of practice to build and retain muscle memory – and it shows. It plays much more tactically, as you manipulate the flow of time in order to defend against hordes of unnerving, faceless red enemies.

SUPERHOT’s twist on the Mexican stand-off
Image: Jazmin Frost

Not a cliché in sight

Instead of a B-movie war story filled with over the top set pieces and action movie clichés a-plenty (sorry, Call of Duty) SUPERHOT creates a unique meta-narrative where the player plays a version of themselves sitting in front of a computer, and a friend sends you a link to a mysterious game called SUPERHOT, thrusting you into the core gameplay.

Without spoiling anything, the story takes many unpredictable twists and turns, immersing you in a vibrant, violent world where time only moves when you do – allowing you to pull off slow-motion bullet dodges, acrobatic shooting, and melee combat to disarm enemies before catching their weapons in glorious slo-mo.

Just as you begin to familiarise yourself with the gameplay, an entirely new scenario is thrown at you

The level design is extremely imaginative, and the pacing of the game rarely slows – the infrequent story segments such as the online chats with the friend character prevent the gameplay from becoming exhausting, providing a welcome break from the constant action.

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The beginning of the enigmatic story
Image: Lewis Ashley

Just as you begin to familiarise yourself with the gameplay, an entirely new scenario is thrown at you – whether it be having to deal with environmental obstacles like a truck hurtling towards you, samurai’s attacking you with katanas, or an entirely new ability like ‘hotswitching’ that allows you to teleport into, before hijacking an enemy’s body.



 Images: top two – SUPERHOT Kickstarter & bottom two: Rabbit Respawn’s Youtube Channel

A budget success story

Overall, the game is extremely impressive, particularly for a game that was produced on a minuscule £300,000 budget. The developers set up a campaign on Kickstarter to raise $100,000 after the success of their browser-based prototype. After famous YouTubers began broadcasting play-throughs of this prototype, the Kickstarter reached its funding goal in less than 24 hours. They had to include ‘stretch goals’ to further encourage donations in order to make the product even more refined, and of course, they achieved most of these as well.

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Stretch goals, as seen on the Kickstarter page.

Crowdfunding is the future

SUPERHOT proves the success of crowdfunding – instead of conforming to industry norms, the Kickstarter platform has enabled the SUPERHOT team to break the mould of the first-person shooter genre. I hope this encourages some of the industry giants like EA and Ubisoft to take creative risks instead of churning out yearly Call of Duty and Assassins Creed titles – as SUPERHOT has proven that taking risks can lead to an exceptionally high reward.

Have you played SUPERHOT? What do you think? Do you think more video games should be crowdfunded? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

SUPERHOT is available to purchase on all major online platforms, and due to the success of the game, a Virtual Reality sequel aptly named SUPERHOT: VR was released last summer. 

Become even more immersed with VR and motion controls

Image: Pixelrator

A Quiet Place: Can 21st century horror escape the low art tarnish?

When you try to imagine unbearable tension, the kind that blurs the line between a film and reality, it is rare that the swarm of boring, predictable horror films come to mind. I mean, are the six Paranormal Activity films really doing much for this genre? Does the found footage techniques used in 2014’s As Above, So Below live at all up to the The Blair Witch Project? We can all agree that the low level of quality within the horror genre post 2001 does nothing to compete with the The Silence of the Lambs and The Exorcist’s of yesteryear.

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Anthony Hopkins captured audiences with his portrayal of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs (Wikimedia Commons)

This unfortunate past couple of decades has planted the seed of thought that horror is a low art genre. A form of cultural creativity that is easily consumed, easily comprehended and easily forgotten. I am not saying that certain films, regardless of genre conform to true high art, but with regards to levels of quality within the film industry, there are certainly those that grab the awards and the audiences. I do believe that A Quiet Place is one of these movies, and will silently (a dreadful attempt at humour) but surely become a future classic.

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John Krasinski, writer, director and star. (Flickr)

The film, which was directed, stars and was co-written by John Krasinski, obviously identifies as a horror flick, and of the 95 minute run time there is little respite from the wickedly unpleasant unease. The film follows an American family as they try to survive in the wake of an apocalyptic style monster invasion. The beasts featured in the film are barely shown in the first half of the film, and rely entirely on sound to hunt whatever prey they choose, from raccoons to old age pensioners. This allows the first half of the film to really act as a catalyst for the families bond. Cheap jump scares are replaced with heart warming, realistic family occasions, such as dinner and a board game, all in silence obviously.

This distancing the film has from modern horror tropes allow the movie to transcend the single genre and exist as something with a little more substance. The attention to detail regarding the lengths the family go to in order to remain silent are incredible. Knitted monopoly counters, trails of sand and detailed use of American Sign Language all come in to play to leave the audience genuinely feeling they must remain silent in the theatre, but with a worse consequence than a theatre attendant giving you dagger eyes.


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After  certified fresh core from Rotten Tomatoes, the film can expect cult classic status. (Wikimedia Commons)


A Quiet Place grossed $219 million from a $20 million budget, and managed a 95% approval rating on film review site Rotten Tomatoes, and various other reviews confirmed it’s universal acclaim. So what did this horror film do to leave the unsuccessful, low art horror films that are so consistently bad behind? It is important to note that instead of focusing the film on the apocalypse itself, it instead concerns itself with family responsibility, the duty of care over children, the definition of family, and thriving with disability. Millicent Simmonds who plays the daughter is deaf in real life, which adds authenticity tenfold to the character. It is also worth mentioning that Emily Blunt (Kransinski’s real life spouse) plays the matriarch of the family, developing the real emotion and love to her husband through the fictional script.

What this leaves the film with is emotional, real parents protecting their family unit. There is no need for a disorientating, terrifying film score, hideously grotesque and unrealistic gore. In fact, each traditional horror trope that doomed the genre is ignored. Perhaps that is what is really needed for films within this genre to achieve the cultural relevance and acclaim that A Quiet Place has achieved.

The Creative City: Is it all paint, no brush?

Seattle. Berlin. Milan. There are no surprises upon hearing that these qualify as official UNESCO creative cities. They are examples of creative manifestation within the concrete jungle. Either riding the forefront wave in their industries, or sunk deep in rich history, these destinations are a cultural capitalists dream city break. Now think of Puebla. Tsuruoka. Perhaps Bandung? You know, in Indonesia? You probably haven’t heard of these cities, let alone have planned to visit them for cultural endeavours. However, they each qualify for UNESCO’s creative manifesto, aimed at making culture a real force for sustainable development and urban regeneration.

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Seattle, UNESCO Creative City of Literature (Wikimedia Commons)

The concept of a creative city is an exciting one. A true blueprint for urban creativity. Originally backed by urban studies legend Richard Florida, the creative city was once considered the primary mover of the economy, and for good reason. But why was this cultural utopia actually considered as a viable plan for derelict cities?

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Creative professionals group together working in creative spaces to maximise ergonomics and benefit the creative economy (Wikimedia Commons)

In theory, this country-wide plan seemed to have it all, and let’s be honest, you can see why it was an attractive concept. The possibility to re-brand a wasteland. The morphing of derelict buildings and ruins into creative spaces and heritage sites would have councils leaping at the opportunity for economic growth. By encouraging an entrepreneurial ethic within the arts, locations can attract creative individuals therefore boosting to the creative economy following the Nesta manifesto. This allows a much more diverse range of workers and residents in the area. Think a playwright living next door to the man who built the theatre. You get the picture.


To a certain extent, this theory is backed up by numbers. EU cities with 50,000 habitants or more have been found to have +19% in jobs, +73% of students in higher education and +15% more highly educated people in general. That’s a lot of thinkers. The problem is, you rarely see a creative thinker with a hammer in his hand, and you can’t build creativity just by placing a gallery in a neighbourhood, it needs foundations. Imagine being a blue-collar worker, a working class citizen, only to find your community has faced a complete re-brand. These re-branding initiatives are expected to rake in the tourists, and consequently the cash, but economic expectations are often difficult to define in cultural functions. A free creative space would boost cultural value, but deliver no economic gain. If it is not free, who would go?

Unfortunately, in 2018, the truth of these creative cities pose questions of negativity, inequality, and gentrification. At the bottom line, trying to create a new creative city is difficult, as the shift from a manufacturing and industrial economy of a city attracts creative professionals, skilled creatives leave their dwindling communities and take their talents elsewhere. By ranking these cities, it is openly advertised to creative workers where not to live. Why would a creative worker want to begin their career in a place where little is offered when they can move to London and be at the epicentre of their trade?

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Cardiff University provides Cardiff with a creative population of almost 30,000. (Wikimedia Commons)

As a young man in higher education, living in Cardiff, I often wonder if the capital of Wales really has what it takes to take the UK city of culture title. I mean it has the diverse population, it has the history, it has the facilities too. However, what right does it have to take this title. How can it focus so much on culture when it its own number of homeless people doubled in 2017? How can an expensive bid to win a title be prioritised over the safe and secure housing of Welsh citizens? I really think this needs to be addressed before Cardiff erect another dragon within the castle walls.




Instagram – The Free Creative Gallery of the 21st Century

While some traditional branches of the creative industry are seeing a decline, one area is striving – advertising. In the UK, advertising spend hit the highest in 2017 and there are estimates that it will grow even further this year.  In a world where digital disruption can be both a threat and an opportunity, many creatives have adopted social media as a possible way to breakthrough in the creative industry.

Traditionally, advertisements have emerged in the print press as a way to sustain newspapers and magazines. However, the emergence of new technologies has led to an increasing popularity of digital marketing. One of the most popular platforms for online promotion is the application Instagram. With more than 500 Million daily active users, Instagram content has the potential to reach a large audience from different socio-economic background. What is more, the app is reshaping people’s understanding of traditional advertising by making it more creative and targeted. According to a 2017 survey the influencer-marketing is also the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method.

Photo from, licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

Instagram began as a social media platform for sharing photos and videos. A couple of years later, many individuals and brands use it to promote themselves and their content in new and creative ways. Nowadays, being a social media influencer is regarded as a real job and numerous brands and businesses seek people with a large following and creative feed for promotional purposes. Celebrities like Kylie Jenner are rumored to make $1 Million per Instagram post. But there are also examples of ordinary people like Negin Mirsalehi, a fashion blogger, who started out with daily outfit inspiration posts. Nowadays, she makes around $20,000 per post and is one of the most famous influencers in the world.

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Instagram can be used to advertise different products                                                                                    No Copyright/Own Images

Instagram offers creatives to build a large following and participate in collaborations with brands. But, creatives can also use this platform to promote their own work for free and reach a larger audience than they would otherwise do. Traditionally, production and distribution of creative content is connected to very high entry, as well as great difficulties for untypical creative forms to strive. However, Instagram offers a favorable option for an online gallery where creative people can showcase their work. Influencers range from fashion gurus, who showcase their style and daily outfit inspirations, travel bloggers, who post breathtaking pictures from all around the world, lifestyle influencers, who share their everyday experiences and a number of others.

Most Influencers use their iPhone to take pictures                                                                                  Photo from, licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

However, Instagram also has its limitations. Today, it is not as easy to build an audience as it was before, because there is a lot of competition. Nowadays you have to adopt different strategies to make your content more captivating and gain followers. You also have to publish appropriate pictures and videos in order to enable yourself of having the possibility to incorporate advertisements into your feed. However, data shows that Instagram proposes is the most effective platform for micro-influencers. Consequently, even with just a couple thousand followers, users can start working with brands and make money.

Creating Instagram advertising can be said to be a creative process on its own. Users have to incorporate the product into the style of their feed, photograph the product, edit the picture so that it appeals to their followers. However, this might lead to people creating content that would get noticed rather than use Instagram as a way to express themselves. Another limitation is the digital literacy one has to possess in order to know how to use Instagram’s different features (posting, hashtags, stories etc.).

Photo from, licensed for use under Creative Commons Zero License (CC0)

Nowadays we need art more than ever and digital marketing proposes a creative and new way for people to express themselves. Through the use of Influencers, businesses have the chance to target customers directly with more personalized and original advertisements. For creative people, this market offers the favorable circumstances for a new career path and more exposure. So, yes, technology can be a threat, but the opportunities are far greater.


Fortnite Battle Royale: A Frontrunner For Free Games.

Image credit: Flickr

For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last few months and may not have heard of the global phenomenon that is: Fortnite Battle Royale (BR). It is a free, online, multi-platform multiplayer game where players compete against each other in a 1 vs 100 style battle, in an attempt to be the last one standing and achieve a “Victory Royale”.

You can watch the game trailer here:

Since its launch in September 2017, Fortnite BR, despite starting out as a relatively small-fry in the colossal chip pan that is the online gaming industry, has enjoyed immense success, both in terms of popularity, and financially. The game has risen to become one of the most popular video games in the world, with the online ranking website placing it as THE Number 1 most popular video game around at the moment. Furthermore, even though the game is free-to-play, the financial rewards that Fortnite and its developers ‘Epic Games’ are now reaping from in-game cosmetic purchases are through the roof! Easily surpassing those of its main competitor, the £26.99 purchase game: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).

So how has this ‘small-fry’ become the big fish it is today? –  From relative obscurity to astounding success.

When the game initially launched, the average gamer (including me) may not have known a whole lot about it. The developer, Epic Games has previously had success with the Xbox exclusive ‘Gears of War’ franchise, but apart from that, the majority of their other projects have not been overwhelmingly popular, certainly nothing near the astronomic levels Fortnite has achieved. So how has this game seemingly come from nowhere?

For me, Fortnite initially emerged from its obscurity when I began seeing videos of the game appearing on my Facebook and Twitter news feeds, often taken from a live-stream broadcasts, which then encouraged me to try the game myself. This hints at one of the reasons why I think Fortnite has become so popular. The fact that players and fans can, and are encouraged to share their experiences of Fortnite online, through streaming sites such as Twitch, as well as on social media, has consequently resulted in the ‘viralisation’ of the game and therefore helped to increase its popularity.

This ‘shareability’ factor is something that has been mutually beneficial for both; the game itself, as well as other creative industries and individuals. The impact the game has had on the video-game streaming industry is gargantuan, with the top streamers benefitting massively. Twitch’s most popular streamer ‘Ninja‘ has amassed nearly 7 million followers on the platform, as well as over 10 million subscribers on YouTube, and has broken countless records, such as the record for concurrent viewers on a stream when he played Fortnite with Canadian rapper (and global superstar), Drake.

Image: Canadian rapper Drake                  Credit: Wikimedia commons

This type of Celebrity influence has also undoubtedly had a profound impact on raising the profile of Fortnite, as global superstars such as Drake and many others who have expressed their interest and love for the game (England footballers Harry Kane and Dele Alli for example) have brought the game to a wider audience who may have had little or no interest in the game previously.

Ultimately however, I believe the main reason for Fortnite’s success is simply because it is an extraordinarily fun game, and this, in combination with its shareability, viralisation and input from celebrity influencers shows how a relatively obscure, free game, with the right management, can become a global phenomenon.

If you are in to your video-games and haven’t already downloaded this game (what have you been doing with your life?) I implore you to do so as soon as possible, endless amounts of fun are waiting to be had, just a click away.