2K Games, a developer known for some of the most famous franchises in gaming today, such as Borderlands and XCOM, is demonstrating its commitment to transforming today’s streaming community into the next generation of content creators to keep the public’s interest in gaming IPs.
2K’s NextMakers initiative had its second iteration announced last month. It is a training program for a select group of game creators that gives them access to the company’s intellectual property and professional network. Its first edition came last year and featured the participation of creators like Tess and Mitsu, who continue to work with 2K on content like The Bordercast, a podcast based on the developer’s popular Borderlands series.
Mitchel Inkrott, the senior influencer marketing manager at 2K, revealed in an interview with Digiday that “2K selects participants for the program based on their alignment with the brand and their ‘investment in the future of content creation’ rather than their current popularity or follower count.” Inkrott also added that the selection process divides the participants between the publisher’s games. This year’s class welcomes creators Tess and Mitsu back, this time as mentors for the 200 chosen trainees.
Digiday also gathered reports from some of the creators included in the initiative about their participation and the changes it has made in their lives.
Mitsu talked about the full-time job he had before joining the NextMakers program. “I was working at Starbucks at the time while doing content creation, and through the NextMakers program, I don’t have to do that anymore,” Mitsu said. “I have stability; I have the ability to take care of my family.”
And Tess discussed the change and improvement in her content creation after getting access to NextMakers. “One of the things the program has really provided is that stability,” Tess said. “Before this, I was basically streaming every day, like eight to 12 hours—it was a lot, and it was very stressful, and I was definitely starting to get a little burned out. Coming to work with NextMakers has given me this understanding that quality matters more than quantity, and that quality will improve if you’re not overworking yourself.”
2K’s NextMakers program seeks to provide its content creators with what they need to be able to fully work with the creation of game content and entertain their audiences with content from its games. Trainees receive “training sessions about building a personal brand and marketing it to potential sponsors, a self-care Discord channel featuring a dedicated personal trainer and talks with industry leaders such as James Davidson, director of talent strategy for prominent esports organization 100 Thieves,” according to Inkrott.
And even with all this material made available to creators by 2K, the publisher does not pressure any of the participants to create content exclusively limited to its games. “There’s nothing from them that says ‘you have to do this’ or anything like that,” Tess said. “I just want to because I have this trust and love for the game that is encouraged and valued by 2K.”
2K’s ultimate goal is to help creators generate consistent income through their content creation. While the publisher does not pay trainees for content creation directly, 2K seeks to create job opportunities for them, such as sending them kits of content from its games and treating them as part of the company. In addition, there is the possibility that after the NextMakers initiative, they can be hired to create content with official support, as is the case with Bordercast. “So many companies tend to look at ‘influencers’ in some sort of transactional way—we are looking at it as the future of marketing,” Inkrott said.
2K’s NextMakers initiative isn’t the only one of its kind to emerge recently. EA launched the Creator Network last year, which is similar to 2K’s NextMakers except focused on EA titles. More and more attention is being focused on content creators and how they help bring an IP to a large audience.
2K is aware of the value content creators can add to its brand and believes this is an important step forward for game marketing in the near future. Its investment helps content creators be more likely to work on what they love and helps generate more quality gaming channels that gamers can consume.