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The Weeknd to headline Fortnite Festival game mode

Online video game Fortnite has confirmed The Weeknd as the first headlining act for its new Festival game mode.

“Fortnite Festival is a new music game where players can play in a band with friends or perform solo on stage with hit music by their favourite artists,” according to a release.

Launching on 9 December, the game will be the first entirely music-focused mode to be introduced to the hugely popular, six-year-old Battle Royale game.

While Fortnite itself is developed by Epic Games, the Festival game mode is being developed by Harmonix – the studio behind the Rock Band video game franchise.

Fortnite last month experienced the biggest day in the game’s history with over 44.7 million players logging on

It was reported in November 2021 that Epic had acquired Harmonix to develop Fortnite experiences.

Music has become an increasing focus for Epic, following the success of virtual concerts inside of Fortnite from the likes of Travis ScottAriana GrandeMarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin.

“Music is already bringing millions of people together in Fortnite, from our emotes to global concerts and events,” Alain Tascan, Epic’s VP of game development, said of acquiring Harmonix.

In April this year, Coachella returned to Fortnite with a new virtual world called Coachella Island, along with mini-games, art installations, festival-themed merch, and virtual recreations of the festival’s hallmarks such as the ferris wheel.

Epic last month experienced the biggest day in the game’s history with over 44.7 million players logging on and 102 million hours of play for the launch of Fortnite OG, featuring the game’s original map.

 


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Coachella returns to Fortnite

Coachella is returning to Epic Games’ Fortnite with the official launch of Coachella Island for this weekend’s festival.

The Goldenvoice-promoted festival’s 2023 edition is scheduled for Indio, California from 14-16 and 21-23 April, headlined by Bad Bunny, Blackpink and Frank Ocean.

Starting at 3pm ET tomorrow (14 April), Coachella Island is billed as a new destination for creator-made music and art experiences, marking “a continuation of Fortnite and Coachella’s shared commitment to showcase, empower and reward artists”.

Inspired by the festival’s landscape, the “music-reactive” island has been built by creators from Alliance Studios and features desert mountains, polo fields, palm trees and day to night cycles.

Alongside virtual replicas of Coachella art installations including Spectra, the Coachella Ferris Wheel and balloon chains, the Art Park features two new art installations from Maggie West and Güvenç Özel, reimagined for the virtual world.

“The future of in-game music and art experiences should not mimic the real-world, but reimagine the magic and make it more accessible via a new medium”

Players will be able to explore the park, as well as take part in team vs. team minigames, and purchase 2023 Coachella-inspired Outfits and in-game items from the merch tent, accompanied by a soundscape by Coachella 2023 performer Porter Robinson.

The new Ask Me and Slide Stride Emotes, meanwhile, will feature music by Bad Bunny and Burna Boy. Players can also turn into Icon Radio in-game to enjoy songs from artists featured on Coachella’s 2023 line-up.

“The future of in-game music and art experiences should not mimic the real-world, but reimagine the magic and make it more accessible via a new medium,” says Sam Schoonover, innovation lead for Coachella. “We believe that the best way to do that is to enable and empower artists to show us the way. Just like the festival IRL is a stage for musicians, Coachella Island is now a canvas for gaming creators. Fortnite provides the tools needed to invite creators and fans to participate in this creative process.”

It was recently confirmed that, for the first time ever, YouTube will livestream performances from all six stages at Coachella on both weekends of the festival.

 


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The Kid LAROI announces Fornite experience

Australian rapper The Kid LAROI has confirmed details of his ‘Wild Dreams’ Fortnite experience, which will include unreleased music.

The experience, set to launch this Friday 27 January, will be “an immersive, interactive musical experience portraying LAROI’s journey from humble beginnings to headlining sold-out performances as a worldwide superstar”.

According to the announcement, the Fortnite experience will feature The Kid LAROI’s new single ‘Love Again’ alongside three, unreleased tracks.

“In this interactive experience, players will quest throughout the cybercity ‘Laroitown’, ultimately attending a jam-packed LAROI concert featuring fan-favorite music and new music. Following the performance, players can join LAROI for the Afterparty. In the Afterparty, listen to the Wild Dreams mix on loop and get a look at the life of LAROI — both on tour and beyond.”

The ‘Wild Dreams’ experience will also include quests, with players able to earn XP and special The Kid LAROI items

The ‘Wild Dreams’ experience will also include quests, with players able to earn XP and special The Kid LAROI items.

Ahead of the experience, players can compete in a special cup from today for the opportunity to unlock Kid LAROI-inspired outfits, alongside a special banner icon and emoticon.

To participate, players must select the ‘The Kid LAROI Wild Dreams’ tile on the discover screen or enter the island code 2601-0606-9081.

In recent months, Fortnite has collaborated with the likes of Metallica, Charlie Puth, Wu-Tang Clan and Silk Sonic.

 


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iHeart Media to stage Charlie Puth Fortnite gig

iHeartMedia is to launch its new metaverse destination iHeartLand inside the video game Fortnite with a concert by Charlie Puth.

Puth will deliver a two-part performance at iHeartLand’s “first-of-its-kind” virtual entertainment venue State Farm Park at 7pm ET on 9 September, followed by an album release party in celebration of his upcoming LP, CHARLIE.

The American singer-songwriter will share new music from the record and host an interactive game designed to test fan knowledge in the run-up to the show, which will mark Puth’s first concert in the metaverse.

Built using Fortnite’s Creative toolset, State Farm Park in iHeartLand will host 20 major events across the music and podcasting space over the next year, including unique artist-fan experiences that can be unlocked through gameplay.

“Our goal is to meet audiences where they are – delivering innovative, incredible programming to constantly challenge ourselves to take entertainment to the next level,” says Conal Byrne, CEO of the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group. “iHeartLand will feature a full calendar of music and podcast performances at State Farm Park that give fans a chance to play and interact with shows and artists in awesome new ways.”

“This new world allows us to extend the reach of today’s biggest creators, artists and personalities in groundbreaking ways”

iHeartLand will undergo periodic changes and refreshes, including the introduction of new mini-games.

“From interactive performances and intimate backstories to immersive game play, native to the platform – this new world allows us to extend the reach of today’s biggest creators, artists and personalities in groundbreaking ways, and is a big next step for iHeartMedia in expanding our engagement with our users,” adds Byrne.

Since debuting its first in-game concert in 2019, Fortnite developer Epic Games has facilitated events such as Soundwave Series, the Rift Tour with Ariana Grande, Travis Scott’s record-breaking Astronomical shows and gigs by  the likes of Marshmello, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J Balvin.

“What iHeartMedia and the team at Atlas Creative have created is a compelling look at a future of Fortnite where artists and brands can independently and authentically connect with fans in new and persistent ways at scale,” adds Matthew Henick, VP, metaverse development for Epic Games. “We can’t wait for players to experience all of the incredibly ambitious content that iHeartLand has planned in the coming months.”

 


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Pokémon GO announces Ed Sheeran concert

Pokémon Go has announced an exclusive performance from Ed Sheeran, slated to appear in the AR mobile game next week.

Sheeran’s pre-recorded set, which includes hits such as ‘Bad Habits’ and ‘Thinking Out Loud’, will be available in the News section of the app from 22–30 November.

The singer’s favourite Pokémon, Squirtle, will also appear in the game, along with branded ‘=’ sweatshirts that players can dress their avatar in.

In-game events have proved to be big business for Niantic, with this year’s Go Fest event reportedly bringing in $21m

In-game events have proved to be big business for Pokémon Go developer Niantic, with this year’s Go Fest event reportedly bringing in around $21 million in revenue over the course of two days, according to analytics firm Sensor Tower.

With the Ed Sheeran event, Niantic appears to be moving in the same direction as Fortnite and Roblox, which have been leading the way for in-game music events.

Pokémon’s previous in-game music events include a virtual concert headlined by Post Malone, which was part of the franchise’s 25th-anniversary celebrations.

 


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Facebook surges ahead in race to create metaverse

Facebook plans to hire 10,000 people to accelerate its development of a so-called metaverse  – a virtual world in which people can work, game, play and even watch concerts.

The word ‘metaverse’ – made up of the prefix ‘meta’ (meaning beyond) and the stem ‘verse’ (a back-formation from “universe”) – is typically used to describe the future iteration of the internet, made up of permanent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe.

Using technologies like virtual and augmented reality, Facebook says it hopes to create a greater sense of “virtual presence” in the metaverse that will “mimic the experience of interacting in person”.

Facebook has made building the metaverse one of its priorities, investing in virtual reality through its Oculus headsets and building VR apps for social hangouts and for the workplace.

In 2018, the tech giant expanded into VR live events, including concerts, with the launch of its social events app Oculus Venues.

Facebook invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”

The app enabled users of its Oculus Go and Gear VR headsets to watch live music and sports alongside other virtual-reality avatars.

In 2020, Occulus partnered with artist-owned streaming platform Tidal to bring a series of exclusive and intimate live performances that can be streamed in virtual reality to fans’ homes.

More recently it invested $50 million in funding non-profit groups to help “build the metaverse responsibly”.

However, Facebook claims the metaverse “won’t be built overnight by a single company” and has promised to collaborate.

A number of massive tech-centric companies that have vested interests in music, such as Tencent and Alibaba, are also investigating how to build a metaverse.

Roblox’s global head of music told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile

Over the course of several years, Epic Games has been expanding its hugely popular online multiplayer game Fortnite to host virtual concerts and brand events within its own virtual world.

Ariana Grande, MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin are among the artists that have delivered virtual concerts within the game.

Other games are getting closer to a metaverse idea, too. Roblox, for example, is an online community where people come together to play, create and explore millions of 3D virtual worlds together with their friends.

The online gaming platform has also incorporated virtual concerts into its offering with performances from the likes of  Royal Blood and Lil Nas X and Twenty One Pilots.

Roblox’s global head of music, Jon Vlassopulos, told IQ in January that he thinks the metaverse will be bigger than the internet and mobile.

Startup companies including Stage11, AmazeVR, Stageverse and Sensorium have also announced ambitions to develop a metaverse.

 


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Fortnite plans virtual concerts for new Soundwave Series

Epic Games has announced the next set of immersive virtual performances coming to Fortnite, under the banner ‘Soundwave Series’.

The series will kick off on 1 October with Egyptian musician Mohamed Hamaki, who has previously been featured on Fortnite Radio.

Hamaki’s show will repeat non-stop for 48 hours so that so it can be accessed at any time over the period. The experience will feature the first performance of his new song ‘Leilt Elomr‘ (‘the night of the order’) and a special emote created just for the first show of the Soundwave Series.

Other acts slated to perform during the Soundwave Series include Australian singer-songwriter Tones And I, Brazilian rapper Emicida, Japanese pop artist and music producer Gen Hoshino, and French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura.

“The Soundwave Series will introduce incredible crossover artists from around the world to millions of new fans”

“Music transcends any language, and has been a beloved part of Fortnite’s journey since our first in-game concert in 2019,” says Nate Nanzer, VP of global partnerships at Epic Games.

“The Soundwave Series continues that legacy and will introduce incredible crossover artists from around the world to millions of new fans inside Fortnite Creative, where there are virtually no limits on what can be designed by our community.”

The Soundwave Series builds on the success of Fortnite‘s recent Rift Tour with Ariana Grande, as well as Travis Scott’s record-breaking Astronomical concerts.

MarshmelloTravis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin have also delivered virtual concerts in Fortnite.

 


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Ariana Grande to headline Fortnite’s Rift Tour

Ariana Grande will be the next artist to perform an in-game concert for the hugely popular multiplayer video game, Fortnite.

The Grammy award-winning artist is set to headline the forthcoming Rift Tour, a virtual ‘musical experience’ that will take place within the online game.

The Rift Tour comprises five shows in early August: Friday 6 August at 18:00 ET, Saturday 7 August at 14:00 ET and Sunday 6 August at 00:00 ET, 10:00 ET and 18:00 ET.

“Working with Epic and the Fortnite team to bring my music to life inside the game has been so fun and such an honour,” says Grande. “I can’t wait to join my fans and see all of your reactions to such an unforgettable, magical journey to new realities.”

“Fortnite is a place for the imagination and the impossible”

Fortnite is a place for the imagination and the impossible. With the Rift Tour, we’re bringing a musical journey to life that players can experience, feel, and join alongside their friends,” says Phil Rampulla, head of brand for Fortnite developer Epic Games.

“We’re so grateful to have an iconic superstar like Ariana Grande and her team join us for a musical experience at metaverse scale, and for players and fans alike to experience the Rift Tour!”

Republic Records-signed Ariana Grande is the latest artist to perform within Fortnite, after the likes of Marshmello, Travis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5, Easy Life and J. Balvin.

The singer’s performance follows a virtual show at the in-game O2 in June, which was performed by the UK act Easy Life.

The iconic London venue became the first real-world arena to get its own venue in Fortnite. 

Watch a teaser for Ariana Grande’s appearance on the Rift Tour below.


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The O2 London recreated in Fortnite

The O2 is set to become the first real-world arena to get its own venue in Fortnite, with players now able to explore the iconic London venue ahead of an in-game performance by UK act Easy Life this Thursday.

Created in Fortnite Creative, the Minecraft-like sandbox game within Fortnite proper, the virtual O2 is a faithful recreation from the outside, while inside players can discover “exciting gameplay additions” including hidden rooms, backstage areas and a new take on the O2’s bar, the O2 Blueroom.

Island Records-signed Easy Life’s in-game performance will available to watch from this Thursday (24 June) at 20.30 BST until 23.59 BST on Sunday 27 June. The show will then be posted to Easy Life’s YouTube channel from Monday 28 June.

The O2 in Fortnite Creative

Described as an “interactive music experience” rather than a virtual concert, the show promises an ever-changing virtual world influenced by Easy Life’s music and lyrics. During the event, Fortnite players will be transported to six unique areas, each inspired by a different track from Life’s a Beach, the band’s debut album.

The Leicester five-piece are the first British band to play a show in Fortnite, the hugely popular multiplayer video game, following the likes of Marshmello, Travis Scott, Steve Aoki, Deadmau5 and J. Balvin.

Simon Valcarcel, head of brand and consumer marketing communications for O2, the O2’s naming sponsor, says: “We couldn’t be prouder to work alongside both Island Records and Epic Games to bring such an incredible experience to O2 customers and music fans all over the world via Fortnite Creative.

“We were thrilled when we were approached with the idea to bring the O2 to Fortnite”

“O2 has a rich heritage in music and we’re committed to providing music fans with unique experiences so it’s only fitting that we’re bringing the world’s most popular entertainment venue into the world’s biggest game. We know how much everyone – us included – has missed going to gigs so we’re excited to bring the UK’s hottest up-and-coming band to music fans globally through Fortnite Creative.”

Nate Nanzer, head of global partnerships for Fortnite developer Epic Games, adds: “We were thrilled when we were approached with the idea to bring the O2, one of the most iconic entertainment venues on the planet, to Fortnite Creative. We’re always looking for exciting and authentic experiences to bring to our players, and we can’t wait for them to get hands-on with this interactive musical journey.

“We’re excited to have the UK’s break-out band, Easy Life, perform in the game and we think our players are really going to love exploring all that the O2 has to offer in Fortnite Creative over the next week.”

 


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Virtual concert venues top pocket money charts

Roblox and Fortnite, the videogaming phenomena which have hosted some of the biggest virtual concerts to date, have topped a survey of the main ways UK children and teens spend their pocket money.

The 2020 edition of the annual Pocket Money Index found Roblox and Fortnite, which placed first and second respectively, dominating the spending charts as people spent more time at home during the Covid-19 pandemic. Minecraft, which has also hosted several music festivals and concerts, placed eighth, while games consoles Xbox and PlayStation were seventh and ninth, respectively.

The pair, whose virtual concert highlights include Lil Nas X (Roblox), Travis Scott (Fortnite) and Marshmello (Fortnite), each rose four places compared to 2019, dethroning books and magazines (RIP) and sweets and chocolate (say it ain’t so!) from the top two spots.

“The pandemic has shifted our spending online, and that’s seen with kids’ spending habits, too”

Roblox and Fortnite were also respectively third and fourth in the top things 4–14-year-olds save their allowance for, behind only Lego and a smartphone.

“The pandemic has shifted our spending online, and that’s seen here with kids’ spending habits, too,” explains Will Carmichael, CEO of Roostermoney, which compiles the Pocket Money Index.

IQ calculated last summer that artists can reach an audience of least 750 million gamers across the top 20 online multiplayer games/platforms alone.

 


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