The British Army has spoken about pulling its Fortnite-focused Operation Belong marketing campaign to Esports News UK.
The campaign was set to include a training course-style map in Fortnite which included obstacles for players to navigate.
It was showcased on Army channels including X (formerly known as Twitter) and was set to feature UK content creators Elz the Witch and Yung Filly going head-to-head with their own teams.
A Twitch livestream was set to take place on January 24th, with a now-removed tweet from the official British Army Jobs account saying: “Check it out. Elz the Witch and Yung Filly battle to Be The Best on our new Fortnite experience Operation: Belong. Live on Twitch. Who will win?”
The Operation Belong campaign also featured the tagline and hashtag ‘You Belong Here’.
While the trailer included the wording, ‘this is not sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Epic Games Inc’, the campaign looks to have breached the game developer’s guidelines.
Specifically, in section 4.3.6 of the Fortnite Island Creator Rules, which states: “Commercial content and sponsors must follow all the content rules, and the Epic Content Guidelines, and must not […] promote enrollment in the military.”
It is also prohibited to promote the likes of medical products, donations to political parties, real money gambling, sales of firearms, tobacco, illegal drugs, dating and more in the Fortnite Island Creator Program.
The British Army’s Operation Belong initiative also drew criticism from some people on social media, who said it was wrong to use a video game to try and recruit young people.
British Army on pulled Operation Belong campaign in Fortnite: ‘We are always seeking innovative ways to reach a range of audiences’
An Army spokesperson told Esports News UK: “We are always seeking innovative ways to reach a range of audiences and raise awareness of what the Army does, including demonstrating our characteristics and values such as communication, problem-solving and teamwork.
“The initiative never involved active recruiting and there was no direct link from the game to an Army Jobs application.
“However, after consultation with our industry partners we have decided not to proceed with the project.”
The campaign is another example of the blurred line between recruitment and public engagement from the military.
Insomnia Gaming Festival has come under fire from some pockets of the gaming community in the past for allowing the British Army to exhibit at the event and engage with minors.
Dom is an award-winning writer and finalist of the Esports Journalist of the Year 2023 award. He graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Federation up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and offer esports consultancy and freelance services. Note: Dom still produces the British Esports newsletter on a freelance basis, so our coverage of British Esports is always kept simple – usually just covering the occasional press release – because of this conflict of interest.