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Unity has partnered with live music company Insomniac Events to create interactive and immersive online concerts.
Under the partnership, Unity’s team is helping to Insomniac Events create a persistent world, or metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
And this metaverse will be all about music, said Peter Moore, senior vice president of sports and live entertainment at Unity, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Insomniac Event has nearly 30 years of creating concerts and community events, and it wants Unity to help it create a metaverse experience for its fans, where they can gather and engage virtually for live music performances regardless of location. Insomniac puts on more than 10,000 events a year that more than seven million people attend.
Moore said the talks with Insomniac accelerated as the pandemic set in and live events were thrown into chaos. Unity has been working with Insomniac for about nine months on the project.
Insomniac’s premier annual event, Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas, is the world’s largest dance music festival and attracts more than 525,000 fans over three days. The focus is on electronic dance music, and Moore said he made it over to the event with his wife to soak it all in. I expect that he was dancing the night away. Moore said he suspected he was the oldest person there.
“They saw the writing on the wall as regards to how they future-proof their experience,” Moore said. “We’re building a virtual platform for them not just for EDC, which will be our first festival, but for future concerts.”
This partnership will deliver a new Insomniac experience for fans in 2022. The aim is to immerse fans in non-stop music and play, with plenty of self-expression as dance culture expands from the physical world into the virtual world. They promise an interactive and engaging experience.
“It is an honor to be partnered with an incredible company like Unity on this new journey. Our vision is to create a social experience in which everyone is a Headliner – where stories and music unite us in discovery, love and a true sense of belonging,” said Pasquale Rotella, CEO of Insomniac Events, in a statement. “Unity is helping us create a world’s first experience for our community as we work together to deliver the next level of what the metaverse can be for entertainment and music.
Moore will speak in a session at SXSW in Austin, Texas, today where, along with a special video message from Pasquale Rotella, he will go into more detail about the partnership. Insomniac wants to move to anywhere, anytime entertainment.
Moore said. “In the future, I believe you can travel to a concert to an arena to a stadium. And like we’ve done in sports for decades, you turn the television on and you can interact. We’re going to push hard on this virtualization concept, with green screen technology, volumetric capture, mixed reality — all of the things that we do with AR and VR. We’re try to bring some level of an interactive concert experience to life.”
The move represents another attempt by Unity to expand beyond games with its interactive, real-time 3D (RT3D) content and creation tools.
Moore said that the definition of creators is expanding beyond game developers to other kinds of creators and game engines become more pervasive across a variety of platforms. Unity has more than 1,800 people in its research and development team.
The company was founded by Pasquale Rotella and has been based in Los Angeles since it was formed in 1993. In 2013, Insomniac entered into a partnership with global entertainment company Live Nation. Moore referred to Rotella as a “legendary icon in the world of electronic dance music.”
Moore said that other concert experiences exist for Fortnite and Roblox, where they hold virtual concerts in their preexisting worlds. But he said Unity is building a platform for Insomniac in its own brand new virtual world.
“We love our partners like Wave, but we think we can add several layers of interactivity on top of what Wave does really well, where you interact and don’t just sit back and watch. This is the next iteration of that virtual entertainment platform. We’ll take a different view than my friends at Epic or Roblox.”
Unity’s concert experience
With the Fortnite experience, Epic was able to amass tens of millions of fans to watch the Travis Scott concert in the game, but it was divided into groups of 100 people who could interact with each other. It could have game characters dancing and light shows to enhance the experience.
“You’ve got to find the balance between being able to find your friends, and still feeling like you’ve got that massive environment of thousands of people around you. And that takes time as well. We will have a pretty similar thing where you’ll be in an instance of the platform with your friends. But we can utilize NPCs (nonplayer characters) around you to give you the sense of scale and magnitude you get at a regular concert. This marriage of these things happening simultaneously would be really fun.”
I asked why Unity was doing this application itself, rather than just providing the tools.
“We looked at this as a way of utilizing our own platform,” Moore said. “It’s all being built internally with our own solutions team, and figuring out best practices and then sharing that out” will happen.
He added, “The belief was we’ll look why don’t we just do it. Prove it out. Add this to the engine, if you will, as a product we could call Unity Show down the line, and then use it a creative tool. This is a little different for what we do. But we felt the best way to do it was to do it ourselves and then share the learnings.”
I said it was exciting to see some new part of the metaverse take shape.
“We went all the way through without saying metaverse,” Moore replied.
As for that metaverse, Moore said it will be a wide open world, hopefully better than past attempts at it.