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Gamefam and the business of advertising on game platforms

Developer talks shop about creating marketing with games within Roblox and Fortnite

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With the proliferation of online games, some titles have been positioning themselves more as platforms, such as Roblox, Minecraft, and Fortnite. They host musical concerts, marketing activations, and interactive experiences designed to advertise all manner of brands and movies.

In March, Epic Games released its Unreal Editor for Fortnite, which allows users to design, develop, and publish games/experiences directly into Fortnite. This has opened a new opportunity for brands to partner with developers to advertise on the platform. One such company is Gamefam. sat down with Gamefam CEO Joe Ferencz and Matthew Zanazzo, head of the company's Fortnite team, to understand the ins and outs on building branded experiences within popular games, rather than as standalone products.

Since its establishment in 2019, the firm has worked with companies such as Sega, Hot Wheels, and the NFL, collaborating on Roblox concerts, Mincecraft games, and, more recently, Fortnite creative mode maps.

The studio's Roblox library includes Sonic Speed Simulator, Festival Tycoon, and Deathfun. Its Minecraft offerings include Minecraft Central and OPBlocks. Via Fortnite, it has developed maps such as Epic Games: Legends Landing, Samsung: Mystic Mayhem, and Epic Games: Shortnitemares.

Joe Ferencz, Gamefam

Gamefam's Bakugan Roblox integration saw 1.5 billion global engagements on the platform. Five months after launching, Sonic Speed Simulator pulled over 500 million play sessions, and it is currently recognized as the largest branded game release for Roblox.

Ferencz says that, given its business niche, the firm has faced little competition. While Gamefam has worked on a number of brand campaigns, the CEO says, "Very few can stand on their own as commercial game content, in platforms like Fortnite and Roblox that rely on humongous amounts of organic usage to drive commercial level revenue."

"...If your brand couldn't support a game on Xbox, iOS, and or Google Play app stores, [it could] not support a commercially viable game on Roblox or Fortnite"Joe Ferencz, Gamefam

"What we tell partners is if your brand couldn't support a game on Xbox, iOS, and or Google Play app stores, [it could] not support a commercially viable game on Roblox or Fortnite. The fundamentals of what a brand means in that space are exactly the same as they are in other gaming platforms."

The executive explains the pitching process to creating a game on a platform is relatively straightforward.

"Usually, the brands come inbound via referral and or an introduction through our networks…from there, we work with them to define the brief for their goals," he says. "And then we come back with a qualitative and quantitative proposal to help achieve their goals; it might even include concept art. Then we finalize the details and start producing. There's an approvals process, of course."

He continues, "We make sure it's the right activation for [a client], whether we talked earlier about integration or, and maybe it's a brand new map for them. We make sure [that the content] has a path for success."

When asked what the unique challenges for the company are for creating content on Roblox and Fortnite, Ferencz says it's a matter of meeting the client's goals on the prospective platform. He says, "It starts with the brand and their desire to reach these audiences. What we want to do for our brand partners is understand what the value proposition is [they] have for [Roblox and Fortnite] communities.

"What is the authentic reason these communities should be interested in engaging with your brand? And how can [Gamefam] build in reward systems so that players want to engage and have a positive experience engaging with [the] brand?

"[These platforms] are in some ways analogous to TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram..."Joe Ferencz, Gamefam

Gamefam's CEO adds that the advantage of creating game content for Roblox and Fortnite is further exposure for multiple audiences. Ferencz says, "[These platforms] are in some ways analogous to TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, right? Everyone knows what it's like to watch a video, and everyone watches videos, not everyone plays games…But everyone understands [social media], and of course, brands have invested so heavily in those platforms over the last few years."

He continues, "And now what we're seeing is brands starting to shift that budget into Roblox, Fortnite, and other gaming platforms. Gaming continues to become the predominant form of entertainment content for today's youngest consumers, [so it stands to reason] more and more media dollars are gonna flow into gaming."

One of the challenges that Gamefam's business model could face would be a change to in-game advertisements. It may have to update its current experiences to stay compliant with changing regulations around advertising to children. However, Matthew Zanazzo, head of the Gamefam Fortnite team, explains that comes with the business.

Matthew Zanazzo, Gamefam

"That's kind of like any business; there's always going be things out of your control. It comes down to how you adapt your previous experience," says Zanazzo. "I've been around since the conception of Fortnite creative, and it's only gotten better and more realistic."

Over the years, there's been growing concerns about how much revenue creators can bring from their efforts. Last year, Roblox was the subject of a report that noted how difficult it was for developers to cash out their Robux earnings in real-world currency. The Gamefam CEO downplays the challenges that presents for his own business.

"There's always going be things out of your control. It comes down to how you adapt..."Matthew Zanazzo, Gamefam

Ferencz explains, "The revenue share for Roblox is publicly available information, and it's different on some of the other platforms. [However], we built our business on those economics though. We operate the business differently than a AAA mobile publisher operates — their business has implications from the top to the bottom to work within Roblox's economic model.

"Fortnite has also been very supportive of developers working with brands; these are platforms that [support] entrepreneurship."

He adds, "Fortnite monetization right now is just coming online. It didn't even exist until March. So we're still navigating what that is. It's been very exciting to see what has been a humongous increase over what the previous monetization system was."

While the company works with brands to create gaming advertisements on Roblox and now Fortnite, the platforms have notable differences in audience and responses.

"Fortnite is running, jumping, building, and shooting. [Meanwhile], Roblox's multiplayer networking functionality is so advanced, and [it's] quick to build social experiences within [it]. It's great because the market is just expanding."

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Jeffrey Rousseau avatar
Jeffrey Rousseau: Jeffrey joined in March 2021. Based in Florida, his work focused on the intersectionality of games and media. He enjoys reading, podcasts, staying informed, and learning how people are tackling issues.
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