iHeartMedia launched its first virtual world on Fortnite, called iHeartLand as the company expands its marketing investments into the metaverse and to younger audiences.
iHeart, which generated $954 million in revenue in the second quarter, first announced plans in January to launch its own branded virtual world on platforms such as Roblox as part of the radio giant’s wider Web3 strategy. Wednesday launch of iHeartLand i Fortnite marks the first unveiling of iHeartMedia’s virtual world and will serve as a testing ground for future iterations of iHeartLand on other world-building games, executives say The Hollywood Reporter.
iHeartLand was created by game developer Atlas Creative using from Fortnite creative mode and includes a main stage, several mini-games, and an iHeart “headquarters” which includes a recording studio and a replica of the tunnel entrance at iHeart’s New York headquarters.
Players will be able to explore the virtual island, play the games, take selfies on the red carpet and watch performances on the main stage, called State Farm Park, which is expected to host 20 events next year featuring popular iHeart musicians and podcasters. At launch, the minigames will include a car racing game on an iHeart-shaped racetrack, an obstacle course in the clouds, a construction game, and a game of musical chairs that requires players to jump from different colored tiles and avoid landing on certain colors. Playing these games will allow users to earn “gold”, which is a currency specific to iHeartLand Fortnite and can be used on things like fireworks and Boogie Bombs, a grenade-like item that makes player avatars dance.
But iHeartLand’s biggest draw will likely be the main stage, which kicks off its series of events with a Sept. 9 performance with Charlie Puth. The concert follows similar in-game performances from artists such as Ariana Grande and Travis Scott i Fortnite, although Puth does not appear as an avatar in iHeartLand, as Grande and Scott did in their respective shows. Instead, Puth’s concert — which was pre-recorded at the iHeartRadio Theater in Burbank — will be a 2D projection shown on the main screen at State Farm Park.
Along with the performance, which will feature new music from Puth’s upcoming album, fans will be able to participate in an interactive trivia game where Puth asks a series of questions and fans can earn XP coins for answering correctly. A separate album release party for Puth’s next album, Charlie, takes place in iHeartLand on October 7th.
“When these artists come in, they’re also very excited to reach these new audiences because remember, it’s also a discovery platform for them to discover new music with the public here on Fortnitesays Jessica Jerrick, vice president of business development and partnerships at iHeartMedia. THR.
iHeartLand will remain free to players, according to Conal Byrne, president of iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group, who highlights Fortnite the island’s ability to bring concerts and events to a larger number of people. “It was a way for us to capture events like Charlie’s and democratize access to it a little better using technology,” says Byrne. “There is no intention to block access to this on the road or anything like that. I actually think it’s the opposite.
Instead, the company is able to monetize the virtual world through sponsorship deals and other advertising placements. At launch, State Farm has exclusive naming rights to the iHeartLand arena in all its iterations across various global gaming platforms, including Roblox in the future. In March, iHeart also partnered with Super League Gaming to sell ads in iHeartLand and other virtual worlds, allowing iHeart to receive a revenue share from all transactions facilitated by the partnership.
Alyson Griffin, State Farm’s vice president of marketing, declined to share specific terms of the insurer’s deal with iHeart, but the executive pointed to State Farm’s previous entries in the game — “Jake from State Farm” appears in this year’s edition. NBA 2K gaming, for example – and the company’s long-standing relationship with iHeart. “We want to learn. We want to try new things, we want to see how it develops, and we’re committed to that,” Griffin says. “Obviously, you don’t make a record like this to do this for a few months .”
And based on user feedback and engagement after launch, “iHeartLand and State Farm Park can scale differently and dramatically” based on what players “like and don’t like,” said Gayle Troberman, Chief Marketing Officer at iHeartMedia.
“Do the children come to the table and tell their parents about… [seeing] The Charlie Puth show at State Farm Park, and then they played this game and they went down this tunnel? Troberman said. “It’s going to be a hit for us.”