Different forms of entertainment are converging in interesting ways.
EDM DJ and producer Marshmello held a concert in early February that was attended by nearly 10 million people. What venue could hold a crowd this large? Nothing, as it turns out. Marshmello’s concert was held in Fortnite’s Pleasant Park, a popular landing place in Epic Games’ hit battle royale game.
The virtual arena meant that Marshmello wasn’t limited by physical constraints and just about anyone could load into one of the concert’s many different instances. Admittedly, that’s less impressive than cramming thousands of avatars into the same venue, but the scale of it is still astounding.
The live in-game concert saw everyone put away their guns and pickaxes for 10 minutes to bop together in front of a giant stage. In some ways, Marshmello was the perfect artist to bring this to life. His signature marshmallow mascot head lent itself to a virtual rendering with ease, and it’s not clear that the same could be said of other artistes.
Nevertheless, the concert is just another example of how Fortnite is pushing the envelope when it comes to keeping its player base engaged. Epic clearly understands the huge overlap between the gaming and music fan bases, and it milked it to great success.
The event proved quite lucrative for Marshmello as well. His song “Check This Out” saw a massive 24,000 per cent leap in on-demand video streams compared to the previous day, with his other songs seeing huge jumps as well. There’s no doubt that the concert provided great exposure for Marshmello, and it makes even more sense when you consider the fact that a Nielsen report found that live music fans are 69 per cent more likely to be esports fans than non-live music fans. Furthermore, while many esports fans consider video gaming their top passion, the average gamer actually engages more with music than esports.
Marshmello’s concert sits at the unique intersection between video games and music, effectively merging two seemingly disparate audiences into one. Again, it shows just how creative Epic is with its one-time events, which have also included a rocket launch and an icing over of the entire game map.
It feels like Epic may also have given us a glimpse into the future of entertainment, where a large fan base can get together and bond over something that technically has nothing to do with the original game itself. Players’ weapons disappeared, and everyone was invited to simply come together, hang out, and dance.
That said, the idea of live performances in a video game is not exactly new. In 2018, Minecraft hosted the Coalchella festival, while Second Life has seen performances by U2, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and even Duran Duran. However, what really is new is Fortnite’s massive audience. With over 200 million players, Fortnite is the mainstream representative of the gaming subculture, and it has immense power to merge the worlds of gaming, music, and celebrity.
For a measure of how pervasive Fortnite is, you just need to remember that Netflix said in its 2018 earnings report that its biggest competitor is Fortnite, and not a rival streaming service like HBO. Fortnite commands a ridiculous number of eyeballs, and it’s drawing time and attention away from a streaming service like Netflix, even though they’re not technically competing in the same industry.
But that’s where the crux of the matter lies. The various spheres of entertainment are no longer entirely distinct from one another. Netflix is even taking a more interactive approach reminiscent of video games with films like Bandersnatch, a telling example of how giants in their own spheres are evolving and borrowing from the playbooks of others to expand their audiences. This could pave the way for an interesting future, where streaming, games, music, and other forms of entertainment meld and learn from each other.
"With over 200 million players, Fortnite is the mainstream representative of the gaming subculture, and it has immense power to merge the worlds of gaming, music, and celebrity. "