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02 leans on the Fortnite factor with virtual venue launch

The 02 blazes a trail for digital experience with the launch of its first ever virtual event space in Fortnite.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director

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In the wake of a global pandemic which forced live music venues to close it is easy to forget that there are some live music experience which can only exist in a virtual world; because they are designed to be there, Free from the usual constraints of the event professional; such as budgets, safety requirements, capacity and gravity creators can build event experiences without boundaries. (In this case replacing the obligatory stage with the belly of a huge decaying whale. 

While zoom fatigue is less a marketing buzzword and more a perennial state of mind, virtual experiences are not always a Plan B. This shift is evident in  the growing cultural firepower and connectivity provided by Epic Games’ Fortnite; the world’s biggest game. 

A firepower underlined by the groundbreaking partnership between 02, Fortnite and Island records, which will see the production of an in-game music and gaming experience this Thursday. A launch which will also see the launch of up and coming UK act, easy life, launching their debut album live. 

As part of the partnership the 02 is launching its first-ever virtual venue. The in-game version of the 02, an iconic venue, will be instantly recognisable inside the virtual venue. Once inside users will be able to access a range of gameplay experiences. While, unlike the real-life venue, players will also be able to access the backstage area and 02 Blueroon to unlock inclusive in-gaming rewards. 

Experiences in the metaverse

O2’s creative agency VCCP worked alongside Fortnite pro-builders who created the entire experience in Fortnite Creative mode, building the 02 from scratch. The team set out with an ambitious vision:  to completely reimagine how shows work.

Wertandrew, Lead Community Creator at Team Cre8, says: "This is the first time that an experience features an iconic venue and interactive show, both built from the ground up by Fortnite creators for players and music fans all around the world to enjoy."

The performance will begin this Thursday, 24th June at 20:30 BST and will be an interactive show where players will be constantly on the move. There will be hoverboards and underwater cinemas and the band will play in the belly of a huge decaying whale. 

During the show, attendees will be transported to six unique areas, each inspired by a different track from ‘life’s a beach’. The full performance will be posted exclusively to easy life's YouTube channel from Monday, 28th June.

We know how much everyone – is included – has missed going to gigs so we’re excited to bring the UK’s hottest up-and- coming act to music fans globally through Fortnite Creative

Simon Valcarcel, Head of Brand and Consumer Marcomms at O2

Tapping into the gaming community

The live event comes at a poignant moment in time for the events and music industry; which have faced significant economic and emotional challenges in the face of the pandemic. 

Simon Valcarcel, Head of Brand and Consumer Marcomms at O2, explained: “We know how much everyone – is included – has missed going to gigs so we’re excited to bring the UK’s hottest up-and- coming act to music fans globally through Fortnite Creative.” , explained: “We know how much everyone – is included – has missed going to gigs so we’re excited to bring the UK’s hottest up-and- coming act to music fans globally through Fortnite Creative.” 

The iconic venue’s move to partner with the world’s biggest game is a timely reminder of the need for marketers to move beyond the stereotypes and misconceptions which still surround games and gamers. 

According to research published by TalkTalk Group earlier this year nearly half of UK parents (45%) are gaming with their kids at least once a week. (A number which could well increase as the study also reveals that another quarter (26%) say they wish they could play games with their son or daughter but they just can’t get their head around them.” 

Despite the stereotypes which still surround gaming for many in lockdown - Fortnite was a lifeline - helping people, particularly children, stay in touch, in a way that would have been possible without the shared touchpoint of the game. 

This is not the first time that Fortnite has held music events. In April last year Travis Scott teamed with Fortinite to premier his new track, an event which was supported with a range of outfits and merchandise players could buy in the game, as well as opportunities to unlock free items by completing challenges. 

The full event video for Travis Scott’s Astronimical launch has amassed over 158 million YouTube views. While over 10 million people attended a Marshmello concert the previous year. A unique  combination of scale and cultural relevance that is increasingly difficult for brands to ignore.

80.4 million
Fornite monthly active players in 2020
75.5 million
Fornite monthly active players in 2019
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