Last weekend dance music producer Marshmello played two 10-minute gigs in Fortnite for different time zones. Millions of people watched it, whether in video form or by logging on and dance-emoting to the tunes in-game. It wasn’t the first time musicians have performed in an online game, and it won’t be the last.
Which brings us to the latest PCG Q&A: Would you watch a concert in a game? And if so, which musician? And, just as important, which game?
Samuel Roberts: REM, specifically in Hitman 2
Let’s say your target is a tour promoter who used to be a genocidal maniac, running his own rogue nation somewhere in the Deep South. You’ve tracked him down, and halfway through the gig, just as Losing My Religion begins, Agent 47 has replaced Michael Stipe on-stage. You have the option to finish the concert, all the way to an inevitable climax of The Great Beyond, then finish your mission by pushing a plant pot on the promoter’s head from a great height or something.
I absolutely would. I used to go to shows every week in my 20s, but now that I’ve got two kids and live in the country it’s not possible. The logical next step for live concerts in video games is obviously Slayer in Resident Evil 2. Or if we’re talking only games-as-service games, probably, uh, Cradle of Filth in Path of Exile. That’ll do.
Joanna Nelius: Ska, VR
The curious side of me would probably tune in for about five minutes just to see what all the fuss is about, but that’s it. I spent some of my high school and college years getting in the middle of skank pits at hole-in-the-wall venues (yes, I love ska music. Don’t judge me!), so I know I would not get the same kind of rush from watching a concert in-game. Maybe if it was a symphony in VR and I was wearing one of those 360-degree sound headsets I’d be able to kick back and enjoy it. As Shaun mentioned, though, geographical location and familial responsibilities do make it hard to attend any kind of concert or show in-person, so I can definitely see why virtual concerts would be appealing. But okay, now that everyone is mentioning specific artists and bands, if Alice Cooper or Primus played a show in a video game, heck yeah I’d watch it!
Andy Kelly: Experimental post-rock in Dark Souls
I’d like to see a band play a gig in Dark Souls. Maybe Godspeed You! Black Emperor could play the entirety of Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven in the ruins of Anor Londo. That would be a fittingly grand, mysterious setting for their music. Or maybe the Rolling Stones could do a concert in The Undead Burg, although they might accidentally get killed when a passing Chosen Undead mistakes them for skeletons. Or, failing that, Majula from Dark Souls 2 could be a nice setting for a David Byrne acoustic set. The games have multiplayer functionality, so I see no reason why FromSoftware can’t make this happen immediately. I’m waiting.
Jarred Walton: Not Marshmello
“Kids these days…” But seriously, if it was in the future with excellent VR headsets and audio—ones that don’t fog up on me or feel constricting would help—and it was a group / musician / whatever that I actually like, sure, I’d watch. But my taste in music is such that I can’t imagine it’s going to go VR or in-game anytime soon. Most 80s and 90s bands aren’t even performing together anymore. There’s the price factor as well. A free concert I’d probably check out, again if it was music I cared about (sorry, Marshmello). I’d still prefer a non-game concert over cartoon-quality 3D graphics, though.
Jody Macgregor: Blind Guardian, in any game but Sacred
In mediocre 2008 ARPG Sacred 2 there’s a quest where you meet the members of a band who ask you to beat up some undead metalheads who’ve stolen their instruments. That band is German power metal legends Blind Guardian, and your reward for returning their instruments is a six-minute cinematic of them performing the game’s theme song. (And some levelled gold and experience.) Their album Nightfall in Middle-earth rules and they deserve better than this cheap cutscene with headbanging trolls or whatever.