The idea that Fortnite is more than a game, it’s a social network has been floating about for a while – tweens and teens especially have been using it as a virtual space to socialise (and, indeed, watch the odd music concert) for a long time.
The game’s new mode reinforces that point though. It’s called ‘Party Royale’ and it ditches the killing in favour of non-lethal interactivity: from driving challenges to virtual restaurants, a football pitch, nightclub and cinema to hang out in.
— Music Ally (@MusicAlly) April 30, 2020
The perfect space, in other words, to perhaps hold some smaller-scale events with music, film and other entertainment partners, to complement the larger-scale Travis Scott / Marshmello / Star Wars set-pieces hosted within the main Fortnite island.
“It feels like I’m in a Fortnite theme park, obviously within a video game,” is how YouTuber Ali-A described it when taking his viewers on a tour yesterday – complete with a ‘constant performances’ festival-style venue.
Fortnite maker Epic Games has yet to announce how (or if) it will be booking artists in to play the space, but it’s going to be fascinating to see what the company does with it.
It will also raise questions about the economics of performances by artists and DJs within Party Royale. Will Epic Games pay them flat fees to appear, or will it be a promotional arrangement only? But even in that case, what about the royalties that would be due for the songs (and recordings in DJs’ cases) performed?
Collecting societies would certainly have something to say about Fortnite having venues that play music, even if most of that music comes from its own composers, production libraries or (dare we say it?) AI-generated music technology.
Music Ally prefers to be optimistic around these kinds of issues: rather than predicting tensions and lawsuits, we’d like to think that if Fortnite does more with music, and puts a model around it that does pay fair royalties to music creators and rightsholders, it could be a really positive move.
To prepare you for that, here are two more articles to read: Trapital’s musings on ‘why hip-hop and gaming are still scratching the surface‘, and MBW editor Tim Ingham’s latest Rolling Stone column on ‘why the music business should be looking closely at Fortnite and Epic Games‘.
Meanwhile, we’ve been poking around in the Party Royale mode this morning to get a closer look at the concert venue in particular. Here are some screenshots: