According to a report from Reuters, Ninja was paid $1 million by Electronic Arts to tweet about Apex Legends and stream the game when it was first launched in early February.
Respawn Entertainment lead producer Drew McCoy said the studio’s goal was to “create a day where you couldn’t escape Apex” and added that Electronic Arts partnered with streamers from all over the world to help spread the word.
Twitch streamers and YouTube video creators have been creating sponsored video game content for years, with publishers paying for them to play upcoming titles on their channel. We sincerely doubt that any of them, however, managed to make as much as Tyler “Ninja” Blevins reportedly did for playing Apex Legends.
What’s perhaps most staggering about the $1 million figure is that it appears to have only required a one-day commitment from Ninja. When questioned about the partnership by Kotaku, Electronic Arts said that by midday on February 5, those streaming the game were all doing it entirely by choice. Apex Legends launched on February 4 without any prior announcement, being available to download for free as soon as Respawn Entertainment’s short livestream was completed.
Ninja told CNN in early 2019 that his total income for last year amounted to nearly $10 million. If his deal with Electronic Arts is indicative of how this year will go, he could smash that figure.
$1 million certainly sounds like a lot of cash for a publisher to pay one person to promote a game, but it appears to have helped Apex Legends find an audience. The game passed 50 million players in early March, and is one of the most-streamed games on Twitch. It still has a long way to go if it wants to surpass the player-count for Fortnite, but it certainly proves that there is room for one than one smash-hit battle royale game.
EA certainly needs the boost from the game, as well, as several of its other recent titles have underperformed. Sales for Battlefield V were below the publisher’s expectations, and BioWare’s online role-playing game Anthem was met with scathing reviews. Respawn Entertainment will be expected to help turn things around with a second game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, which will arrive this holiday season.