The Largest "Human" Gathering Nobody Went To

On February 2, Marshmello, who ranks #10 in DJ Magazine’s Top 100, held a live concert that was attended by over 10 million people — or rather, 10 million avatars. The event took place on the popular online video game Fortnite, where players could control an avatar in a shared 3D virtual space. Some are calling it one of the largest human gatherings in history. The concert is a promising indicator of future large-scale experiences in a virtual world. But this innovation is just the latest example of Fortnite's success.

Using 3D worlds and a unique content experience, Fortnite has scaled to massive success before our eyes. The mega platform is only about a year-and-a-half old, but already has more than 200 million users, making it the most popular video game in the world. Fortnite brings in over $300 million per month, and has an average revenue per user that is nearly double that of Google, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat combined. And the game's growth shows no sign of slowing — it just had its best-ever month on iOS, with revenue growing 83% month-over-month and 16% over its prior peak in July.

Like past examples we've shared, Fortnite owes its popularity and financial success to the right trends converging at the right time. The game's core pillars include: a free-to-play model, cross platform integration that allows anyone, anywhere to play on any device, and an emphasis on collaborative gameplay. This third dynamic has shaped Fortnite into the new gathering space among teens and young adults – an afterschool meetup that spans neighborhoods, cities, countries and continents. This shared virtual space could mark the beginning of an entirely new Internet: The Metaverse.  

The Metaverse is a theoretical evolution of the Internet involving a collective virtual shared space. The experience would span virtual words, be foundational to real-world AR interactions, and would exist as a parallel reality where all humans could come together virtually. And the concept goes far beyond video games. Some predict the rise of digital economies where humans will literally “work,” trade and buy goods. It all seems a bit out of reach now, but Marshmello's recent event suggests this virtual universe could be approaching faster than we think. 

Fortnite is a video game at its core, but its shift toward a new kind of virtual experience is the latest example of creative platform progression. After all, Facebook was originally a campus “Hot or Not” site, and Netflix was born to help people avoid late DVD rental fees. To have value, any social network needs to start from a place of utility to its users. Fortnite’s advantage is that it’s already a massive gathering space that’s gradually taking on the qualities of something bigger. This evolution will certainly be one to watch. 

Chris Perry 

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Copyright © 2019 Weber Shandwick

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