Apex Legends has become the biggest hit of the year but that success did not come cheap and neither did Ninja’s involvement in promoting it.
Big name YouTubers and Twitch stars don’t do anything for free. If they talk about anything other than the normal game they play it’s probably because they’ve been paid to do so.
Richard Tyler Blevins, better known to the world as Ninja, was one of a number of influencers who switched from their normal routine to tweet about and stream EA’s Apex Legends, when it was announced out of the blue last month.
According to a report by Reuters this wasn’t an accident or just because he was interested in the game, but because EA paid him $1 million (£750,000) to do so.
It’s unknown how many other influences EA also paid but Reuters claims it definitely includes Shroud, although it’s unknown if he was paid the same amount.
$1 million is twice Ninja’s monthly earnings from streaming, although he long ago started making more money from advertising and merchandise than from Twitch – his absences from streaming leading him to lose 90% of his subscribers over the last year.
There’s nothing illegal in what EA did, and they have not denied paying influencers, but they have refused to confirm exactly how much they were paid.
Ninja certainly didn’t mention how much he was earning at the time, although he did use the hashtag #ApexPartner with his videos. Even so, many viewers would have been left with the impression that he was simply playing the games for fun because it had just come out and was similar to Fortnite.
From EA’s perspective though everything went perfectly, with analysts estimating that they’ve made around $500 million from in-game purchases in Apex Legends already.
‘We really wanted to create a day where you couldn’t escape Apex if you cared about games and we wanted it to feel like an event was happening everywhere around the globe on that day,’ said Apex Legends lead producer Drew McCoy.
‘We had streamers from all over Europe, LatAm, North America, Korea, Japan so that we could get our message out there and people would see the game’.