TV & Streaming

How Amazon turned ‘Fallout’ into another video-game adaptation success story

To market the series, Prime Video leaned on the gaming community to help build hype.
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Amazon MGM Studios

· 5 min read

Video-game adaptations continue to look like a cheat code for high streaming viewership.

Amazon Prime Video’s adaptation of the video-game series Fallout, released on April 10, quickly became the streamer’s second-most-watched title of all time, clocking over 65 million viewers in its first 16 days, according to the company.

The post-apocalyptic series, which has already been greenlit for a second season, is the latest example in the streaming world of a successful video-game adaptation. Last year, HBO original series The Last of Us quickly became one of the platform’s most-watched shows, while Netflix’s The Witcher—based on a series of fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski that were first adapted into a video-game series—was Netflix’s most-watched original Season 1 release when it first debuted in late 2019.

For Prime Video, the series was the highest-profile release yet on its ad-supported tier, which rolled out widely to US Prime Video users in January, and there was plenty of marketing might to support the series. Amazon leaned heavily on experiential activations aimed at the gaming community, and were able to reel in not just viewers, but also advertisers interested in jumping in on the action.

“This was a pretty robust marketing campaign where we used a lot of different levers to both connect with fans who are familiar with the game, either gamers who played the game or gamers in general who may not have played Fallout, but were familiar with the IP,” Jared Goldsmith, head of series marketing at Amazon MGM Studios, told Marketing Brew.

Crack a joke

When crafting marketing around Fallout, Goldsmith says his team focused on trying to translate to consumers the same feeling as playing the games in the franchise—and watching the show itself.

“It’s just so welcoming—it’s humorous and dark and twisted and adventurous in all the best ways, and that’s what we leaned into in the marketing campaign,” he told us.

A core part of Amazon’s marketing strategy for Fallout was through activations in gaming spaces around the world, he said. That included debuting snippets of the show at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, in August 2023, followed by an activation based on the underground vaults that feature in the series, at CCXP in São Paulo, Brazil late last year. More recently, Fallout came to SXSW in March, with an experiential activation built around the show’s wasteland.

Additionally, the marketing team worked directly with creators in the gaming space. including on Amazon-owned Twitch, where various gamers co-streamed their real-time reactions to watching the series. They also partnered with Fallout game-maker Bethesda and Microsoft, offering Prime subscribers the ability to get a copy of the game Fallout 76 for free through Prime Gaming for Xbox and PC, Goldsmith said.

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There was also branded merchandise to help support the series, including apparel and branded cans of AriZona energy drinks, among other products, according to Jamie Kampel, head of consumer products licensing at Amazon MGM Studios.

And, of course, social media was another part of the strategy, Goldsmith said, especially since Amazon dropped all episodes of the show at once.

“From a marketing standpoint, it’s our job to continue to drive that conversation, sustain that conversation, and introduce new audiences who may be taking more of a wait-and-see approach or may be a little less familiar,” Goldsmith told us. “[We’re] really trying to build up that FOMO feeling.”

Gold rush

For brands, being attached to screen adaptations of video games can be an attractive option, Carly Costantino, SVP of media and Northeast lead at Publicis’s Razorfish, told us. One big reason: they often come with a built-in fan base, which can help bolster initial buzz and viewership, she said.

And video-game adaptations can potentially help brands target certain demographics, specifically younger men, Dave Morgan, founder and executive chairman of TV advertising platform Simulmedia, told Marketing Brew. Those viewers have traditionally been more challenging to target in entertainment programming.

“You can find some of them in sports, but it’s harder to find them in entertainment programming,” he told Marketing Brew.“That’s one of the areas where the crossover with games brings opportunities.”

But sustained excitement around a show is often only as good as the show itself, and “at the end of the day, it’s the quality of the show that pays off,” Costantino said. “If it’s a hit, you get a lot of success as a brand being affiliated. ”That’s a chance that advertisers who may opt to show up as early partners of a show may want to take, she said.

“There’s a lot of unknowns being first, but you could ride the wave of success and it could be an incredible payoff,” she said. “If it kind of falls flat, it’s a large investment that may not pay off.” For advertisers who are more risk-averse, though, “Timing is definitely something to consider,” she added. “Coming in when it’s a little bit more established might [be of] benefit. It might not be so risky, because you know what the outcome will be.”

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