Fortnite Just Had An In-Game Marshmello Concert - It Was A Weird Glimpse Of The Future

Electronic music fan or not, chances are you’ve heard of Marshmello. The same can be said about Fortnite, which by now is a household name to both hardcore gamers and people who have never touched a controller.

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Bring them together and you have a live in-game concert that marries the mediums of gaming, music and the power of celebrity into a virtual experience that early stats suggest over 10-million concurrent players enjoyed. Without even intending to, Fortnite just became Second Life, or PlayStation Home.

When you look at what’s currently happening in interactive entertainment, this feels like a firm step into the future, but is it a good future?

First, some context. At 2pm EST on Saturday, the American electronic music producer performed a 10-minute show virtually within the free-to-play shooter. Weapons were disabled as he was on-stage and various videos posted afterwards show a tight set with plenty of in-game avatars dancing.

In terms of the tech behind it, it seems like Marshmello was motion captured to be a truer, less video game-esque version of himself. You can tell this from his natural movement compared to the players in the crowd.

After the event, Marshmello (Christopher Comstock) tweeted: “We made history today! The first ever live virtual concert inside of fortnite with millions of people in attendance. So insane, thank you Epic Games and everyone who made this possible!”

“What makes me happiest about today is that so many people got to experience their first concert ever. All the videos I keep seeing of people laughing and smiling throughout the set are amazing. Man I’m still so pumped.”

And that’s the wholesome quality of a performance like this. It is the democratisation of live performance through the blending of planes of reality. The audience is there in this multi-billion dollar franchise, so why not go there? It’s not hurting anyone, I’ll admit that before sounding like a grumpy old man and voicing my concerns.

You are seeing a lot of publications, voicing their approval of this concert and discussing how this spectacle is a glimpse into the next step of interactive entertainment events. But in doing this, I feel we’re entering a “jack of all trades/master of none” issue.

Second Life continues to be a thoroughly popular title, but the one thing that stops it from being a worldwide smash hit is the personification demands. It’s more than a game, it’s a life sim that requires your whole attention (and imagination) to ignite your character with personality and live within the world before you. That disembodiment is tricky for most (including me) and means you lose interest fast, or see through the mirage fast. 

It’s the difference between being immersed in a virtual live concert, and seeing it as a bit cheesy in comparison to the real thing. By marrying these two entertainment types together, you don’t get that electric atmosphere of a live show, and neither do you get a good video game. It’s just a thing that happened.

But allow me to clarify - this is not me saying it shouldn’t happen. For the very reasons Marshmello stated (removing the financial barriers of going to live concerts and introducing a younger audience to this performance), alongside the fact that Epic Games can do whatever they want with their money, it has its benefits.

I’m just pointing out that, much like in life, trying to do too many things results in a loss of interest