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Epic Games isn’t a company to rest on its laurels, from taking Fortnite to the top of the games industry to recently launching a storefront aiming to displace Steam. However, placing Fortnite ads on Google search pages for new battle royale game Apex Legends may be Epic’s boldest move yet.
According to Fortnite Intel, users who search for “Apex Legends” are being presented for an advertisement for Fortnite right at the top of the page. This is an interesting move by Epic Games. The decision shows the company has noticed Apex Legends’ popularity as the new battle royale on the block.
There is no rule against using this kind of tactic in Google. In fact, it is almost encouraged, as Google offers targeted advertising as a way of attracting any desired audience. This has made the practice of attracting a rival’s audience one that has gone on for many years. In 2015, Samsung famously used the tactic against competitor Apple. The ad asked users if they’d mistakenly searched for Apple’s iPhone 6s when they should’ve searched for Samsung’s Galaxy S8.
Epic Games has fought battles like this before, most notably pitting Fortnite against PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, a rivalry which spawned a lawsuit. Epic Games demonstrated its ruthlessness again when the company filed another lawsuit against a 14-year-old Fortnite player for cheating.
It comes as no surprise that Epic Games has decided it can’t afford to ignore Apex Legends and has chosen to implement these Fortnite ads. The new battle royale title by Respawn Entertainment has demonstrated a rapid rise in popularity. It remains to be seen if the hero-shooter-cum-battle-royale will have the kind of longevity to pose a significant threat to Fortnite.
For some perspective, Fortnite reportedly hit the 200 million users mark at the end of 2018 (via PCGamer). This dwarfs Apex Legends’ current user count of sub-20 million. Fortnite has proven itself to be a gaming juggernaut. Despite initially not being released on the Nintendo Switch, the game became the most-played title in Europe on the console in 2018.