27 Travis Scott’s Astronomical
For turning a gaming platform into a global stage
When more than 12 million Fortnite players set aside their cyber guns to watch an avatar of rapper Travis Scott perform a 10-minute virtual concert on 23 April, it did more than solidify Fortnite’s place in the gaming firmament. The show demonstrated the power of virtual platforms to convene amid a pandemic—and pointed toward a new potential future for the live-concert business.
Epic Games’ developers brought Travis Scott’s Astronomical show to life by leaning into the kind of player immersion and interactivity that has made Fortnite’s battle royale format so successful. In the days leading up to the concert, players could even spy on the construction of a stage at the Sweaty Sands beach. The concert visuals themselves were mind-bending, from an exploding-planet introduction to a cyborg version of Scott to a segment where the crowd was submerged underwater. Standard Fortnite emotes were replaced by special actions more aligned to an actual concert (like the ever-popular headbang). The premiere was followed by several “tour dates,” creating what one reviewer called “quality quarantainment.”
With musicians and fans unlikely to cram into physical venues anytime soon, Fortnite’s digital extravaganza starring Scott introduced a safe—and fun—model for high-attendance events of all types. And the business gains were tangible: According to Rolling Stone, streaming of Scott’s music jumped 26 percent after the concert.