Fortnite x Marshmello Concert Teases the Future of Play
On Saturday, popular electronic dance music (EDM) artist Marshmello performed a live 10-minute set on Fortnite, the free-to-play game that continues to transform the gaming space. Here’s our favorite video and here’s Marshmello’s video. In our view, the concert is a great example of the future of play: the fusion of digital and physical worlds to create a new reality.
The event was a ground-breaking combination of popular music and gaming on a global scale. Fortnite is no stranger to live in-game events, but they are typically only cinematic cuts that change the map or add new elements to the game. Saturday’s event brought together an estimated 10 million players in-game and millions more tuned in on YouTube or Twitch.
Fortnite teased the concert in the week leading up to the event by including posters in the game, slowly building the stage in Pleasant Park, and adding Marshmello skins, emotes, a glider, and a pickaxe. Some of these items had to be earned by completing specific challenges in a short window while others could be purchased from the store. Fortnite doesn’t release numbers for in-game items, but the Marshmello skin is clearly a top seller based on our in-game observations during the concert.
We’d focus on three takeaways from the event:
1. Fortnite is pushing the envelope, blending gaming and culture.
Fortnite is retaining and expanding its position in popular culture surprisingly well. Epic has shown it can blend reality with fantasy and gaming with culture. In addition to the Marshmello items associated with the event, Fortnite was selling NFL skins in its store for the Super Bowl. On Sunday, one of Fortnite’s stars, Ninja, made an appearance in an NFL commercial during halftime. We even saw Apple get in on the fun, releasing an Apple Music playlist with Marshmello about the event. Gaming is becoming less of a niche interest and more of a mainstream part of popular culture.
2. Other games will try to adopt live events to drive viewership and engagement.
Just as Fortnite was not the first to release a battle royale game, they weren’t the first to host an in-game live music event. However, what Fortnite continues to do is execute in a class of its own and has such a massive following that it is shaping the future of video games and entertainment. Competing developers have no choice but to throw their hat in the ring as we have seen with battle royale game-modes appearing everywhere, even from established franchises. Fortnite’s live events have ushered in a new era of in-game entertainment, and there is little doubt live events will soon be everywhere in gaming.
3. The spectator has become a participant.
Watching this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show reminded us a lot of the Fortnite concert the day before but with one key difference. Over 100M people around the world watched Maroon 5 and Travis Scott perform 15 minutes worth of their most popular songs at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. After experiencing the Fortnite concert as opposed to just watching the Halftime Show, our eyes were opened to how much better remote concerts can and eventually will be. Today, we all just sit in front of a TV or computer screen and watch a broadcast of an event. Fortnite showed us that we are headed towards a world where we can virtually attend these events. Today’s younger generations grow up in a world where they can fly around a virtual island’s electronic dance music concert. It begs the question, what’s next? As we previously mentioned, more and more video game developers will be implementing live events into their console and PC games, but not too long from now we will be immersing ourselves even further into these events thanks to virtual reality. There are already live VR music experiences available, but we are still a few years away from having millions of people together dancing (through their avatars from their real physical movements) in these virtual spaces. But as VR tech improves, becomes more accessible, and is then widely adopted, the experience of being able to attend almost any event regardless of physical distance will bring people together in ways never before possible and change the world.
Marshmello’s Fortnite concert represents the first steps in the inevitable transition from spectator to participant in remote venue events. We can’t wait to see what Epic Games, creator of Fortnite, has up its sleeve next.
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