August 29, 2022
Epic Games is getting another major venue in its “Fortnite” metaverse with an iHeartMedia digital headquarters. The complex, iHeartLand, includes a main stage, recording studio and game park. An interesting example of how virtual reality is mapping IRL commercially, the concert venue struck a naming rights deal with insurance company State Farm. In addition to avatar concerts, State Farm Park features a large screen that can display 2D performances, the format chosen by inaugural guest Charlie Puth for his September 9 show.
State Farm Park also features a red carpet area where visitors can snap avatar “selfies” (expect a cottage industry of celebrities hiring surrogates to perform their avatars’ red carpet walks, eventually replacing the human actors with model-trained AI doppelgangers). The game park features a lawn area where vendors will “sell” emotes and virtual fireworks using virtual currency iHeart calls “gold” that can be earned by playing “minigames.”
In its announcement, iHeart calls iHeartLand an “always-on entertainment space where music and gaming collide.” It will be a sovereign space, managed and administered by iHeart (although the odds mitigate heavily toward some sort of episodic comingling in upcoming “Fortnite” experiences).
Sponsor pairings have become something of a specialty, with characters and scenarios from the Marvel Universe, the Star Wars Universe, “Rick and Morty,” board game Monopoly, the NFL and World Cup Soccer making appearances.
Earlier this year, PC Gamer described “Fortnite” as “the fastest-changing game in history,” which over the years has made “substantial additions and, every so often, a complete change in setting.” The market for digital accessories and character skins among “Fortnite” fans is robust, and a great opportunity for an industry as merch-oriented as music.
Assuming iHeart gets some sort of preferred status as the music world gateway to “Fortnite” (which has 2.9 million players online as of this writing, according to PlayerCounter, and has shown up to 4 million in August), this looks like a savvy virtual real estate investment by iHeart.
Tech Times reports that after discussions with Roblox, iHeartMedia in August 2021 revealed plans for an Epic iHeartLand, and went on to build it using game developer Atlas Creative, “the group behind ‘Fortnite’ virtual worlds of known brands and organizations LG, Hulu, NBA, Time, and many more.”
The Verge reports there are 20 events “currently planned for [iHeartLand] over the next 12 months,” including an album drop party October 7 for Puth’s upcoming release “CHARLIE.”
Ready or Not, Here Comes Web3: How the Internet’s Next Evolution Is Shaping Hollywood’s Future, Variety, 8/17/22
The Top 5 Metaverse Activations You Need to Know About Right Now, Ad Age, 8/25/22
Does Web3 Bring Hype or Value to the Internet?, Pymnts.com, 8/26/22
What Does Audio Sound Like in Web3?, Forbes, 8/25/22
Why I Was Completely Wrong About Fortnite, CNET, 8/24/22
Patrick Mahomes Is the Latest Athlete to Join the Fortnite World, ESPN, 8/22/22