When Travis Scott appeared in Fortnite, the celebrated rapper saw a 419% increase in demand for tickets alone after his first in-game concert. But although astute, Scott wasn’t the first influencer to get involved in gaming, there have been plenty that have run the gauntlet before, with varying results, acknowledge’s DMarket’s CEO Vlad Panchenko.
Scott might actually have got his gaming passion from Mom-manager Kris Kardashian, after previously dating daughter Kylie. Although the Kardashians may not fit into the typical eSports influencer category they are still rumoured to have made over $100m so far thanks to a collaboration with Glu Games.
With most of the developed world still implementing lockdowns and travel bans, gaming allows the sense of community that we so desperately miss while sitting at home. And while most businesses rely on gaps in the market being exploited, the truth is that many gaming visionaries have seen the possibility of both the real world and the gaming world colliding for years.
In 1999 while still a teenager, I remember attending my first in-game concert where I watched my first ever music set by David Bowie. I hadn’t been a fan before but after such an introduction, I’ve been a fan ever since. The memories it created – not of a super fan but just someone having fun, watching a famous artist in a favourite game – we were simply innocent bystanders caught up in the music, and that isn’t something many artists can replicate these days. It’s the possibility of reaching a new audience who is then ready to spend money on lucrative merchandise – alongside the possibility of further advertising deals.
You might wonder just how celebrities make their money in GameTech? Does the game pay for their performance? Sometimes. But the truth is that people in the metaverse want to look and feel their best just as people do in the real world. Those latest trainers might not be affordable right now, but in a game – they might be much cheaper. Artists such as Travis Scott and brands such as Louis Vuitton are making fortunes from offering replica items in games. What’s more, these ‘skins’ are often transferable, which means you can take them with you from game to game.
And while I can kit out my skins in the metaverse to stay on-trend and feel closer to my favourite artists, I also believe that before long, games will allow us to interact on a much closer level. Not just catching a concert through your console, but actual up-close and personal interactions where you can chat, compete and build a relationship with your favourite actor, politician or creator – whether through actual gameplay or some form of AI experience.
Right now, artists are using games as a springboard to launch new products, such as clothing ranges. Once you’ve bought their items within the game, there is a need to innovate collections and make certain products ‘rare’ this can then drive up prices of specific skins. While loot boxes which release limited edition items have been questioned in the past, limited ranges of apparel by celebrities have flown somewhat under the radar, despite driving up prices on skin-selling platforms such as DMarket.
Soon clothing ranges will turn to experiences, and games will develop to monetize all of societies cravings, from celebrity involvement to forming new friendships and offering a meeting point now that the coffee shop is closed. It might be the brands that are benefiting now, but eSports isn’t far behind. With football matches called off, sports teams within games are gaining momentum and the individuals and teams that play wider games, such as multip-person first-person shooter games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, are almost demi-gods.
As the entertainment industry struggles with social distancing and set limitations, more time will be pushed towards new entertainment shows that involve the audience – like Bandersnatch. Once we are entertained, we become the first stakeholders – and on that front, it will be the content creators who come out of a global pandemic as the biggest winners. From TikTok to video game studios, platform holders will drive the masses.
It won’t take long for the legal industry to catch on either, music rights are heavily regulated yet until Travis Scott played Fortnite no-one had thought to consider digital rights, this is now the norm. This is one area of business set to grow exponentially in the new few years as games evolve and artists want to jump on the bandwagon.
Something else that gaming helps with is solving problems, whether it’s geographically limited merchandise or creating a buzz about limited merchandise like the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Riot Games in League of Legends, the metaverse does away with such limitations. As payment technologies begin to embrace the purchasing power of stuck-at-home gamers, the millions that innovative celebrity partnerships currently make could soon reach billions.