- IHeartMedia launched iHeartLand, an always-on metaverse space built in Fortnite using the game’s creative tools, per a company announcement.
- The main draw is a State Farm-sponsored concert arena designed to emulate large-scale outdoor venues. State Farm Park plans to host 20 events over the next year, starting with a two-part performance from Charlie Puth on Sept. 9.
- Visitors can also participate in mini-games and explore an iHeart Headquarters building referencing elements from the company’s real-life headquarters. IHeartMedia making an always-on metaverse play indicates the mass communications firm expects interest in attending virtual performances will linger even as in-person gatherings rebound.
Concert demand has surged since live venues reopened, but publishers and brands clearly still see value in staging performances virtually on gaming platforms, an idea that first took hold earlier in the pandemic. With iHeartLand, iHeartMedia is rolling the dice that consumers will be eager to log in for a full year of programming on Fortnite even though there’s no shortage of in-person shows to attend.
The island is designed to be dynamic, undergoing periodic changes and cycling through a variety of mini-games to keep people entertained. It was built with Atlas Creative, a group that helps brands develop custom Fortnite experiences.
The iHeartRadio owner at the start of the year revealed plans to expand into the metaverse, specifically targeting the Roblox platform that is popular among Gen Z and Gen Alpha consumers. The publisher at the time called out Roblox’s growing user base and detailed an ambitious strategy to introduce the service’s first “tokenized community” that would provide unique rewards to fans of artists and content creators. In June, State Farm was granted exclusive naming rights to the iHeartLand concept.
Now, the focus seems to have shifted to Fortnite, which differs from Roblox in style and gameplay but shares a similarly youth-oriented audience. IHeartMedia looks to make a splash by bringing in Charlie Puth to promote the drop of his new album “CHARLIE” on Oct. 7. Along with premiering fresh material, Puth will host an interactive game testing fans’ knowledge of his work.
Epic Games, Fortnite’s developer, was not a direct partner on the effort, though executives praised its ambition.
"What iHeartMedia and the team at Atlas Creative have created is a compelling look at a future of Fortnite where artists and brands can independently and authentically connect with fans in new and persistent ways at scale,” said Matthew Henick, vice president of metaverse development for Epic Games, in a statement.
For State Farm, the sponsorship opens a path to reaching new consumers who might not quite yet be in the market for insurance, along with providing an avenue to experiment with ways to bridge physical and digital tactics. The marketer has previously tried its hand at similar ideas. Jake from State Farm, a khaki-wearing brand character who frequently pops up in commercials, was integrated into an open-world gameplay mode of NBA 2K22.