The virtual events that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t going away anytime soon. Instead, they are merging with their in-person counterparts in a bid to become more accessible and reach an untapped source of attendees.
This year’s Burning Man festival is entirely virtual — but that doesn’t mean attendees can’t stroll around the grounds. For the second year in a row, an officially sanctioned “Virtual Burn” is happening in Topia, a browser-based metaverse platform. Topia’s Burning Man world features many of the traditions of the in-person festival, including themed tents, a massive wooden effigy and bikes that can be ridden around the space. “We’re going to have a whole music festival in here as well,” said Topia CEO Daniel Liebeskind, potentially with big-name performers such as Diplo.
This is far from the only way music festivals are reaching into virtual space. This weekend, Breakaway Music Festival is kicking off with an event in Grand Rapids, Michigan, featuring on-site interactive “esports lounges” administered by esports firm ReKTGlobal. Attendees will be able to take part in hourly tournaments on one of the festival’s stages, with gameplay getting featured between musical acts on the festival’s livestream. “I need to curate events that are going to continue to attract Gen Z,” said Breakaway co-founder Adam Lynn. “And so it’s just kind of a natural fit, and I think music and gaming are starting to blend in a huge way.”
The digitization of the world under COVID-19 may have permanently affected how younger consumers perceive live events. The most attended concert of 2020 was Travis Scott’s Fortnite event, which drew over 27 million viewers across platforms. The event involved all the trappings of an in-person concert, but with more flexibility in its content and range of experience: users who grew bored of the concert could teleport into a different “room” of the concert or simply go back into Battle Royale mode. “Consumption habits of Gen Z are going toward, frankly, gaming and esports,” said ReKTGlobal CFO Brad Sive. “And so we feel that we’re the tip of the spear of that universe.”
The esports lounges at Breakaway don’t yet incorporate fully digital versions of the festival, à la Topia’s Virtual Burn, but this is a concept that both Lynn and ReKTGlobal have considered at length. “There is a way for us to develop an NFT ecosystem around this to help celebrate it,” Sive said. “You’ll be able to interact online, and you might be able to take something unique away from it in the digital space, as you would buying a T-shirt or whatever at your favorite festival.”
Indeed, the convergence of physical and virtual events is a boon for the vendors and brand partners looking to reach this expanded digital audience.
When the League of Legends European Championship was unable to host in-person events in its studio last year, it created a virtual version of the studio that was accessible to users all over the world. This virtual studio acted as the location for the LEC’s Kia-sponsored 8Bit Rift activation, a virtual event whose attendance was far above that of any in-person event held in the Berlin studio.
“This is something that has been on the forefront of our thinking for a long time already, even before the pandemic,” said Maximilian Schmidt, head of esports for League of Legends Europe and MENA at Riot Games. The virtual activation was inspired and informed by the LEC’s past attempts to merge physical and virtual space, including the virtual dragon that flew into the arena at the 2017 World Championship and the performance of the virtual K-pop group K/DA at Worlds 2020.
The landscape of live events has been forever changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. With users primed and ready to experience events in the metaverse, festivals are entering virtual space — and virtual spaces are developing a presence at in-person festivals. In the near future, it might not matter whether attendees experience events physically or virtually; the experience will simply be equivalent and persistent across both.
‘We anticipate this percentage will increase’: QuickBooks will allocate more fees to LGBTQ+ influencers
Diverse organizations perform better. Marketers are always saying it, but there’s a good reason why. Sure enough, DTC business QuickBooks has found that the more diverse its influencer roster gets, the more effective it is. Take LGBTQ influencers, for example, whose content tends to perform better, said Jennifer Buchbinder, director of strategic communications at QuickBooks’ […]
Why brands want to make NFTs useful, rather than profitable amid the crypto downturn
Despite the volatility in the crypto markets, consumer brands and e-commerce platforms are trying new ways to evolve NFTs from being novel collectibles to something more useful for both consumers and companies.
‘Get it off the ground’: How virtual restaurant company Nextbite partnered with Wiz Khalifa to lift brand awareness
Nexbite hopes the partnership with delivery-only restaurant Packed Bowls by Wiz Khalifa will create brand lift and return business.
SponsoredFor brands, first-party data is unlocking the cookieless ecosystem
Bill Masterson, president, Publishers Clearing House Media A dominant factor guiding the industry has been that cookies and mobile app IDs are vanishing and will be replaced by some mixture of new and emergent identity solutions. As a result, the market is alive with new and exciting alternatives to replace the third-party browser cookie and […]
To speak out or not: That is the question facing employers in the wake of Roe
If employers can stay out of the biggest political and social issues of our time, should they?
Companies are offering to cover abortion-related travel expenses to employees, but with strings attached
Dozens of companies have offered abortion-related travel benefits. But for some the offer comes with strings attached.