Are Fornite Concerts The Future Of Music?
A year or two ago, many of the world’s leading gaming populations wrote ‘Fortnite’ off as a fad. They thought that as popular as the game was at the time, it had limited appeal and would reach the end of its useful life in the near future. They couldn’t have been more wrong. ‘Fortnite’ is as popular today as it ever was, and worryingly for developers of rival games, it still appears to be going from strength to strength. It’s even trialing a ‘no combat’ mode in the hope of luring yet more players to its platform – and it’s not stopping there. If it carries on at its current pace, it might become the new home of live music.
Everyone knows that there aren’t as many opportunities for musicians on television as there used to be. The iconic show ‘Top of the Pops’ is no longer on the airwaves in the United Kingdom, and the time-honored chat show staple of having a major artist or band close a show is happening less and less often in recent times, too. The way we consume music in general is changing, with more emphasis on streaming and singles, and less emphasis on owning physical copies of albums, or even albums in general. A move to streaming means a greater emphasis on the internet – and the internet might be where we go for music performances in the future rather than buying tickets for stadiums or arenas. Why are we saying that? Well, it all comes back to ‘Fortnite’ again.
Last week, the world of ‘Fortnite’ held a live concert by the DJ Diplo, and carried out no advertising that the event would be happening prior to the set beginning. It happened in the Party Royale area – the ‘unarmed’ part of the game that we mentioned earlier – and it was only seen by the people who happened to be in that area at that time. Even without any promotion, the zone filled up as word spread of the performance, and a repeat viewing – probably the first of several – has already been lined up. Viewers of the repeats don’t get the same experience of seeing Diplo playing ‘live’ – but as the performance happened on a screen in front of a virtual world, the ‘live’ factor probably won’t be a major consideration for most viewers.
Diplo is not, of course, the first performer to take to ‘Fortnite’ in search of an audience. That honor went to his fellow DJ Marshmello last year, who managed to attract more than ten million people online at the same time to see him perform. Many people assumed that the Marshmello gig would be the peak of popularity as far as virtual concerts are concerned, but we know that isn’t true either. The record he set has already been broken. Travis Scott made several ‘Fornite’ appearances a little over a week ago, and the first of his shows attracted more than twelve million people. Not only does that me
‘Fornite’ isn’t the only digital realm we’ve seen open its doors to well-known bands and musicians in recent years, and nor was it the first. While identifying when and where the trend started is difficult, we have to tip our hat to online slots websites as pioneers. In the modern age of online slots, where the majority of new games come with a theme or a concept behind them, well-known musical acts are powerful motivators when it comes to persuading people to spend money. Many of the world’s biggest-ever bands and musicians, from Elvis Presley to Dolly Parton, have their own official online slots. As new UK slot site and casinos grow in popularity from month to month and year to year, it’s reasonable to assume that an official online slots game will also soon become an essential part of every star’s marketing approach.
Clearly, ‘Fortnite’ has neither the time nor the inclination to accept every approach that’s made to it by a musician, and we suspect we’ll soon reach a point where more musicians want to play on ‘Fortnite’ than the game’s audience wants to see. We also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that regardless of its occasional use as a concert venue, ‘Fortnite’ is a combat game first and foremost. The company behind the game won’t want to lose that distinction, and so we don’t expect them to begin staging virtual concerts every week or even every month. We do, however, expect to see them happening regularly in the ‘Party Royale’ zone from now on, and we can’t help but wonder which other widely-popular games might adopt the same approach. How about a concert that happens if you point your phone in the right direction in ‘Pokemon Go,’ or a gig happening in the middle of a warzone in ‘Call of Duty?’ If any game lends itself well to the idea of being able to host a performance by a major artist, then perhaps it’s ‘Grand Theft Auto?’
Technology never stands still, and neither does music. What’s popular as a sound and style in music today will sound dated a few years from now, and the same is true of games. As games become more advanced, though, we’re likely to see the definition of what is and isn’t a game become stretched and more enmeshed with the reality around us. Soon, there will be no reason to despair if your favorite musician doesn’t include a venue in your location on their next big tour. Even if you can’t see them in the flesh, chances are that they’ll soon be coming to a video game near you. Given the fact that you won’t be crowded, pushed around, overcharged for drinks, or drowned out by other people singing along while you’re watching, you might even consider that an improvement!