Music continues to rise inside metaverse gaming

Colin Campbell, Monday, June 19th, 2023 11:11 am

As The Weeknd’s global ‘After Hours Til Dawn’ enters its European leg, the artist has announced a Web3 initiative, including an online metaverse gaming destination, and on-site AR installations.

It’s the latest in a series of initiatives tying together metaverse gaming and music, stretching back more than five years, to Fortnite’s early attempts to find entertainment appeal beyond gaming.

Enter the Dimension is The Weeknd’s online destination offering fans and players the chance to win merchandise. It includes a glitzy, explorable metaverse section in which the player collects tokens in order to enter the VIP room and a prize draw. A separate game invites players to solve a logic puzzle.

The release is part of a partnership with blockchain ecosystem and cryptocurrency outfit Binance. An NFT collection is also planned for release later this year which “will feature artwork in collaboration with The Weeknd and will unlock access to a number of compelling perks for holders”.

“Our partnership with The Weeknd has provided an incredible platform from which we can showcase how Web3 can create deeper connections between the artist and their fans,” said Binance’s Rachel Conlan. “It’s been exciting to work with The Weeknd’s team to push the boundaries of fan entertainment.”

Digital tunes

Other metaverse and Web3 companies have been active in tying together music, games, and NFTs. Fantasia are a virtual metaverse pop group who recently made their musical debut on metaverse blockchain platform X World’s Dream Idols. The VR-initial project delivers “motion-captured performances that …make players feel as if they are there”, according to X World.

Fantasia is made up of four members – Catherine, Luceo, Betty, and Andal – whose art style is based on X World’s Dream Card NFT game, an RPG in which players buy and trade digital assets. Behind the player-facing art, real singers are “professionally trained in singing and dancing and be selected for their talent in performing and personalities”, according to X World’s announcement.

Dream Idols is initially available for various VR platforms, including Meta and Vive, with mobile releases planned for the future. “X World Games has invested in delivering the best motion capture, VR, and 3D CGI technology to bring the Dream Idols to life,” added the company. “By utilizing technology like cloud rendering, the VR landscape and girls will render at 4K, about 500 times faster than a single computer system.”

Perhaps the best-known game for musical crossovers is Fortnite, published by Epic Games. Back in 2019, DJ Marshmello staged an in-game concert that was followed by events from Travis Scott, Ariande Grande, and Kid Laroi.

Speaking to The Verge, Epic Games chief Tim Sweeney explained the focus on music and on live events. “We want to grow by welcoming creators, bringing in new genres of games and new ways to engage that go beyond the battle royale experience,” he said.

“A lot of people come to the Fortnite concerts because they love the musicians, but then they leave because they’re not shooter players. We see massive opportunities for growth. There are potentially hundreds of millions of gamers who could become active users of this thing if we serve enough of their different needs. Every genre of games brings in a new audience along with it. Some are really niche and hardcore, some are very broad and mass market, and we’ll welcome them all.”

Rhythm City

In 2022, Roblox hosted a party event by French DJ David Guetta, in partnership with Warner Music Group and in-game creative powerhouse Wonder Works Studio. Attrendants were able to buy digital merchandise, and to win prizes and to play mini-games. Attendance topped at 18,000 concurrents. Other Roblox musical acts include Twenty One Pilots and Royal Blood.

Earlier this year, Warner Bros. announced a musical themed play area called Rhythm City, dedicated to promoting and staging the company’s roster of artists. “As our lives become increasingly digital, exciting opportunities are opening up for artists and fans to engage and interact”, said WMG chief digital officer Oana Ruxandra. “WMG is focused on facilitating the foundations of these new experiences by building and experimenting across evolving ecosystems … [including] a place for artists and audiences to come together to define and contextualize their communities within living spaces.”

The Sandbox puts a lot of emphasis on live events that broaden the platform’s appeal, including music. U.S. CEO Mathieu Nouzareth recently told GameDaily: In the last season, for example, we had what we call 100 experiences. An experience can be a game or a concert, or a social experience. A lot of those experiences directly generated revenues for the creators by selling wearables or [entry] tickets for example.”

He added: “We see a lot of interest in experiences from well known brands like Gucci and Warner Music. But a lot of smaller communities are able to engage the community, and it’s not just about games, but about other verticals like movies, TV, music, fashion, NFTs and other things that the community finds interesting as social opportunities.”

However, there are risks involved. In 2022, Meta scored a major coup by staging a concert with Foo Fighters. Although much hyped, it was plagued by technical difficulties. Although more than 60,000 people wanted to attend, the maximum number who made it into the live event was 13,000 at any one time. In music, as in games, the ability to predict and account for audience behavior is key.

Colin Campbell

Colin Campbell has been reporting on the gaming industry for more than three decades, including for Polygon, IGN, The Guardian, Next Generation, and The Economist. © 2024 | All Rights Reserved.