Tyler “Ninja” Blevins gained popularity when he started playing Fortnite Battle Royale in October 2017. Blevins streamed himself playing Fortnite on Twitch, growing his viewership and the game’s popularity, which peaked in the late 2017/early 2018 period. His following had grown from a respectable 500,000 in September 2017 to over a whopping 2 million in March 2018.
Blevins set a Twitch record in his streaming career for having the most massive concurrent audience on an individual stream, with 635,000 people watching him play Fortnite with popstars Drake, Travis Scott, and Juju Smith-Schuster. Blevins enjoyed great success through streaming on Twitch and playing Fortnite. It gave his streaming career a considerable boost and gained him a massive following. He was also reaping the benefits, monetary wise. As the popularity of the game rose along with him, Epic Games had reported that they earned over US$3 billion in revenue from Fortnite sales. To acknowledge Blevins’ impact on the game and the industry, Epic Games added a Ninja-based cosmetic skin to the game in January 2020. At the height of his career, Blevins has described it as a blur of flights, TV appearances, and charity events.
On August 1 2019, Blevins signed a deal with Microsoft’s Mixer platform, where he was to stream exclusively. According to Blevins’ wife and manager, Twitch was limiting Blevins’ route for growth and had taken an impact on his mental health. Things were going well for Blevins, until Mixer shut down in July 2020, releasing him from his exclusivity deal.
Now, with no obligations to any company, his large following, and the popularity of Fornite keeping steady, where is Blevins headed?
As of July 8, 2020, Blevins began streaming back on Youtube, but only once since then. Blevins is currently weighing his options and seeking out potential platforms for a deal. He has also uploaded videos on Youtube, garnering views upwards of 200,000. Despite the relative success, it is apparent that Blevins has his heart set on reaching Hollywood.
In an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Blevins mentioned he prefers voice acting instead of hosting, but ultimately, he is seeking to dabble in ‘everything and anything Hollywood’.
“Movies, voice acting, cartoons,” the 29-year-old with millions of fans said, “I’m looking at everything.”
Without a talent agent, he is reading scripts and coming up with original ideas that he could either produce or star in himself. The first round of platform negotiations has forced Blevins into thinking about his end goal, something the Fortnite player is not used to, as his career thus far has been based on his short-term wins.
“I have always been afraid of becoming a sellout,” he says. “I tell Jess every day, I’m never going to work with someone I don’t want to work with and I’m never going to endorse something that I don’t like.” Beyond that, he says that no matter what else he’s doing, “I’ll be gaming my entire life.”
While Blevins’ hopes to have a successful venture into Hollywood and blow up as he did with Fortnite, he’s pragmatic about his chances.
“It just has to make sense,” he says. “If it’s tough because I’m not comfortable with it yet, I can work on that. But if it’s tough because I’m not good, I’m not going to cry over it.”
Moving forward, Blevins has decided to take the break with appreciation, as while his streaming presence has retracted, his brand is growing bigger. He has appeared on Fox’s The Masked Signer and became the first gamer to release his shoe with Adidas, the ‘Time In’ Nite Jogger.
The news that Microsoft was shutting down Mixer gave Blevins a form of relief as he seeks to take a backseat in streaming and decide which platform offers him the best deal while dabbling here and there in Hollywood.
On August 6, Blevins returned to Twitch, the first time in over a year. He played Call of Duty: Warzone, with over 100,000 viewers watching him. According to a tweet from esports consultant Rod Breslau, this Twitch stream is not due to a deal with the platform and is acted by Blevins on his own. He is still negotiating with different platforms.