It was recently announced that Ninja would be the first professional gamer to be featured on ESPN The Magazine. Known for his recent, overwhelming success streaming Fortnite, Ninja is arguably the most famous professional gamer ever. Having played Halo competitively, he became familiar with the industry early on. Jumping from game to game and gaining a following, Ninja caught his break with the release of Fortnite‘s battle royale mode a year ago.
Ninja’s success is no secret as it has been heavily reported. Teaming up with Drake, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Travis Scott, Ninja’s stream shattered a Twitch record with 630,000 viewers earlier this year. Shortly after, Ninja made national news in March when he revealed that he earns somewhere around $500,000 a month, though since then, Ninja himself stated that he earns somewhere closer to 7 figures. At an exclusive event organized for and by Ninja, he went on to break the viewership record again with 667,000 concurrent viewers. The record-breaking star has not stopped, as two months ago he became the first Twitch affiliate to surpass 10 million followers.
— ESPN (@espn) September 18, 2018
It would be selling Fortnite short to say that it has been extremely successful. Popularized for its battle royale mode, the free-to-play phenomenon was reported in July as having over 125 million concurrent players across all platforms. While Fortnite is not the only successful battle royale, it is the most accomplished thus far. Fortnite‘s success is suspected to be the inspiration for the development of battle royale modes in both Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and Battlefield V.
Having only featured sports stars on its covers for over 20 years, ESPN The Magazine is a little out of its element here. ESPN should expect some backlash due to its willingness to push the boundaries, but ultimately, this should contribute positively to both the sports and gaming industries. ESPN recently began covering eSports, expanding its demographic and increasing eSports’ popularity. Knowing that, combined with Ninja’s feature, it can be concluded that the gaming industry’s popularity is rapidly growing. Considering all that has happened, stronger eSports coverage can be expected and future ESPN gamer features are probable.
ESPN The Magazine‘s next issue featuring Ninja will be available on September 21.