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Ashland University Wins Big With New Fortnite Video Game Scholarship

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Epic Games

An explosive scene from video game, Fortnite.

If you have teens, you’ve probably heard of Fortnite, the free streaming video game that launched last fall and is taking over the virtual world. But the big news now is that soon Ohio’s Ashland University&nbsp;will be offering scholarships to skilled Fortnite players to play on their varsity Esports team. It’s a move that&nbsp;presents us with&nbsp;a&nbsp;powerful marketing move for Ashland, for Fortnite, for Esports and for the video game category in general.

First, details of the scholarship.

Ashland University will be offering up to $4,000 in scholarship funds to players who meet the academic and competitive requirements. The university is looking to build up its Esports program, which currently already includes games like&nbsp;League Of Legends and Overwatch.

While Ashland is the first university to offer scholarships for Fortnite players, they are not the first university to assemble and formalize their Esports programs. According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) there are 63 institutions&nbsp;in its membership around the country.

That’s 63 colleges and universities who not only take video gaming seriously, they are working towards assimilating video games into their varsity sports programs.

What does it all mean? It’s a powerful idea with a cascade of marketing benefits&nbsp;flowing to lots of winners. Let’s take the interested constituencies one at a time.

Parents are disarmed.

If parents had the equivalent of a rocket launcher in arguing to their kids, “You’re spending too much time playing Fork Night or whatever it’s called,” consider&nbsp;them&nbsp;suddenly out of rockets. Kids can now simply say, “Mom, I’m trying to earn a scholarship. Back off.” Boom. How do you argue with that? Teachers are also suddenly without rockets.

Video game category is armed.

Conversely, the video game category&nbsp;picks up&nbsp;the parents’ and teachers’ lost rockets. They can chalk up&nbsp;their association with collegiate play and scholarships as a form of serious and real vindication. Video games are no longer just time-wasting games that kids get addicted to, they are tickets to success. Huge PR angle here, of which I’m sure the video game category&nbsp;is taking full advantage. But also good evidence of social normalization.

Esports gets a feeder system.

Every professional sport needs a feeder system, or farm system, to develop and recruit players. Esports, like the NFL, now has the collegiate level to serve as such a system. The college and university teams will support&nbsp;their&nbsp;teams like they do their baseball, basketball and football teams. More importantly for Esports, they will teach these kids&nbsp;the dynamics of team play. It’s one thing to be great at Fortnite at home on the couch while telling mom to back off. I’d imagine it’s quite another to be teamed with five other people, coordinating moves, communicating and scheming. Skills will be gained at this feeder level.

Further for Esports, in the case of Fortnite there is no professional level yet. Remember, the game was only launched last fall. So the collegiate level can serve as a testing ground for professional competition on&nbsp;the platform.

Red hot Fortnite&nbsp;gets&nbsp;even hotter.

According to Newzoo, in March of this year 30.1% of core PC gamers played Fortnite: Battle Royale in February. Add to that the fact that Fortnite is now the most watched battle royale game on YouTube and Twitch.

And remember this game was launched by Epic Games in September of 2017. Talk about rocket launchers.

The game&nbsp;had a lot going for it, to be sure. It’s a free download, it’s available on most platforms, it’s social and, according to my son, incredibly fun. But now – NOW – the game also has the added benefit of being “accredited” by Ashland University with this scholarship.

Good times that are only getting better.

Players can now use Fortnite to compete in the game of life.

The coolest part of all this is that the players of Fortnite can now not only compete with other players of Fortnite within each game, but can compete with them on a macro-level for the Ashland scholarship. That’s a battle royale alright. But think about that. High school kids who maybe weren’t that good at hockey or football or singing or acting now have a path to scholarly relief. Pretty cool, and I’m sure Ashland is just the beginning.

And Ashland University positions itself squarely in the future.

Let’s not forget about Ashland here. This university was already in front of most schools by establishing an Esports program at all. But now they’re on the bleeding edge offering this Fortnite scholarship. That took some vision and some risk tolerance. But think about what&nbsp;it says to prospective students.

It’s like a parent pushing the Beatles on a kid back in 1963. Suddenly Ashland is the cool school pushing&nbsp;the kids’ favorite game on them. It’s a massive PR story for the university (evidence of which you can plainly see by this post).

Marketing ideas like this – and let’s face it, at least part of this decision was a marketing decision – where so many interested parties benefit is rare.

Ironically, unlike Fortnite where only one winner survives each game, with this scholarship idea everyone wins.

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Epic Games

An explosive scene from video game, Fortnite.

If you have teens, you’ve probably heard of Fortnite, the free streaming video game that launched last fall and is taking over the virtual world. But the big news now is that soon Ohio’s Ashland University will be offering scholarships to skilled Fortnite players to play on their varsity Esports team. It’s a move that presents us with a powerful marketing move for Ashland, for Fortnite, for Esports and for the video game category in general.

First, details of the scholarship.

Ashland University will be offering up to $4,000 in scholarship funds to players who meet the academic and competitive requirements. The university is looking to build up its Esports program, which currently already includes games like League Of Legends and Overwatch.

While Ashland is the first university to offer scholarships for Fortnite players, they are not the first university to assemble and formalize their Esports programs. According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) there are 63 institutions in its membership around the country.

That’s 63 colleges and universities who not only take video gaming seriously, they are working towards assimilating video games into their varsity sports programs.

What does it all mean? It’s a powerful idea with a cascade of marketing benefits flowing to lots of winners. Let’s take the interested constituencies one at a time.

Parents are disarmed.

If parents had the equivalent of a rocket launcher in arguing to their kids, “You’re spending too much time playing Fork Night or whatever it’s called,” consider them suddenly out of rockets. Kids can now simply say, “Mom, I’m trying to earn a scholarship. Back off.” Boom. How do you argue with that? Teachers are also suddenly without rockets.

Video game category is armed.

Conversely, the video game category picks up the parents’ and teachers’ lost rockets. They can chalk up their association with collegiate play and scholarships as a form of serious and real vindication. Video games are no longer just time-wasting games that kids get addicted to, they are tickets to success. Huge PR angle here, of which I’m sure the video game category is taking full advantage. But also good evidence of social normalization.

Esports gets a feeder system.

Every professional sport needs a feeder system, or farm system, to develop and recruit players. Esports, like the NFL, now has the collegiate level to serve as such a system. The college and university teams will support their teams like they do their baseball, basketball and football teams. More importantly for Esports, they will teach these kids the dynamics of team play. It’s one thing to be great at Fortnite at home on the couch while telling mom to back off. I’d imagine it’s quite another to be teamed with five other people, coordinating moves, communicating and scheming. Skills will be gained at this feeder level.

Further for Esports, in the case of Fortnite there is no professional level yet. Remember, the game was only launched last fall. So the collegiate level can serve as a testing ground for professional competition on the platform.

Red hot Fortnite gets even hotter.

According to Newzoo, in March of this year 30.1% of core PC gamers played Fortnite: Battle Royale in February. Add to that the fact that Fortnite is now the most watched battle royale game on YouTube and Twitch.

And remember this game was launched by Epic Games in September of 2017. Talk about rocket launchers.

The game had a lot going for it, to be sure. It’s a free download, it’s available on most platforms, it’s social and, according to my son, incredibly fun. But now – NOW – the game also has the added benefit of being “accredited” by Ashland University with this scholarship.

Good times that are only getting better.

Players can now use Fortnite to compete in the game of life.

The coolest part of all this is that the players of Fortnite can now not only compete with other players of Fortnite within each game, but can compete with them on a macro-level for the Ashland scholarship. That’s a battle royale alright. But think about that. High school kids who maybe weren’t that good at hockey or football or singing or acting now have a path to scholarly relief. Pretty cool, and I’m sure Ashland is just the beginning.

And Ashland University positions itself squarely in the future.

Let’s not forget about Ashland here. This university was already in front of most schools by establishing an Esports program at all. But now they’re on the bleeding edge offering this Fortnite scholarship. That took some vision and some risk tolerance. But think about what it says to prospective students.

It’s like a parent pushing the Beatles on a kid back in 1963. Suddenly Ashland is the cool school pushing the kids’ favorite game on them. It’s a massive PR story for the university (evidence of which you can plainly see by this post).

Marketing ideas like this – and let’s face it, at least part of this decision was a marketing decision – where so many interested parties benefit is rare.

Ironically, unlike Fortnite where only one winner survives each game, with this scholarship idea everyone wins.

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