Epic Games is making live music performances a regular part of “Fortnite.” But because of its current legal fight with Apple, the concerts on the game’s Party Royale island will not be available on iOS or Mac devices.
The new “Fortnite” Spotlight concert series will kick off with singer-rapper-songwriter Dominic Fike, who will perform songs from his LP debut, “What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” including “Chicken Tenders.” Fike’s performance will be broadcast live in-game from the Party Royale Spotlight sound stage in Los Angeles, on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 5 p.m. ET (with repeat airings at 11 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 13, at 1 p.m. ET).
Epic has lined up two other artists (yet to be announced) for shows on Sept. 19 and 26 in “Fortnite’s” Party Royale space, and the plan is to make the concerts an ongoing attraction, said Nate Nanzer, Epic Games head of global partnerships.
“Given the state of the world, artists are having trouble connecting with fans,” Nanzer said. “We’re creating this platform to work with artists — big artists and up-and-coming artists.” He added that the “Fortnite” Spotlight concerts will be produced from a studio in Glendale, Calif., with the ability in the future for artists to leverage Epic’s Unreal Engine to weave in augmented-reality effects. “This is not a bedroom show,” Nanzer said. “It’s not a DJ from their living room.”
The Spotlight concerts will be free to access for any “Fortnite” player and Epic doesn’t plan to sell ads or sponsorships for them. “This is about bringing joy to our players,” Nanzer said. “We want everyone to be able to watch it. There’s no paywall at all.”
However — for now — “Fortnite” players will not be able to stream the virtual concerts on Apple’s iPhone, iPad or Mac. An Epic rep confirmed that the Spotlight events won’t be accessible in older versions of “Fortnite” for Apple platforms.
Last month, Apple kicked “Fortnite” (and other Epic titles) off the App Store, after the games company refused to change its 20% discount for “Fortnite” players who purchased in-app game currency directly, bypassing Apple’s payment system. Epic sued Apple and Google on Aug. 13, alleging they engage in anticompetitive conduct by imposing “unlawful” restrictions to monopolize their app platforms and demand 30% of revenue from app purchases. It’s seeking a reversal of Apple’s ban of “Fortnite” on the App Store.
“Fortnite” has more than 350 million registered users. According to Epic, about 116 million of the game’s players are on iOS — and it said “Fortnite” daily active users on iOS have dropped by more than 60% since the game’s removal from the App Store.
The latest “Fortnite” update is available for Android via the Epic Games app for Android or the Samsung Galaxy Store, as well as on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PCs.
The launch of the concert series in “Fortnite” is the latest move by Epic in its evolving strategy to build the Party Royale no-combat social space into an entertainment destination. The game has featured virtual concerts from artists including Travis Scott (who broke live attendance records) as well as Marshmello, Deadmau5, Diplo and Japanese singer/songwriter Kenshi Yonezu. Party Royale also featured worldwide screenings of several Christopher Nolan films, including “Inception” in the U.S., earlier this summer.
Epic will shoot the “Fortnite” Spotlight concerts in the Glendale studio with artists performing on a 24-by-24-foot stage. For now there will be no in-studio audience, and Epic is adopting multiple COVID safety protocols, including providing a separate entrance for talent, rapid on-site testing and robocams in the studio.
Epic wants music artists to think of gigging in “Fortnite” as they would appearing on late-night TV shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” said Nanzer.
“The real benefit to artists… is they see meaningful lifts in listening” after they perform in the game, he said. Nanzer added that Epic is compensating artists for their appearances: “We don’t expect people to work for free.”