For the first time, MTV's upcoming Video Music Awards (VMAs) are incorporating video games by featuring a "Best Metaverse Performance" category.
The new category shows there's major mainstream interest in the promise of the metaverse, and calls to attention the efforts studios like Epic Games have made over the years to embrace the concept.
Throughout 2022, several musicians held musical performances in popular video games, similar to Travis Scott's massive virtual concert in Fortnite back in 2020. That concert attracted a record of 12.3 million concurrent players and even a recording of the event on YouTube has over 190 million views. Since its rising popularity, MTV was spurred to create the category.
"We saw the opportunity to highlight and honor some of the best, most impactful executions of this - and celebrate artists who have found creative ways to use these spaces - which led to the addition of [the] Best Metaverse Performance category this year," reads a statement from MTV.
The full list of nominees includes Ariana Grande headlining the "Rift Tour" concert in Fortnite, BTS in Minecraft, Blackpink in PUBG Mobile, Justin Bieber's interactive experience in Wave, and the individual performances in Roblox by Charlie XCX and 21 Pilots.
Voting for "best Metaverse" and the other VMA categories is currently active, with the winners to be announced on August 28.
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In recent years, Epic Games' Fortnite and Mojang's Minecraft have become venues for promotional events. Earlier this year, Fortnite collaborated with Coachella this year, even playing songs from the annual music festival in the game. Last year, the game also held a music festival featuring artists from around the world, such as Brazilian rapper Emicida and Egyptian artist Mohamed Hamaki.
In 2020, Epic's battle royale became a virtual movie theater to screen films from director Christopher Nolan ahead of the release of his then-upcoming sci-fi thriller Tenet. Similarly, Disney held an event in Fortnite to promote the release of 2019's Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker that also served effectively as that film's prologue.
There's an appeal in digital concerts such as these; both for health and safety reasons, and also for merchandising. Players can buy in-game shirts, character skins, and emotes of artists to celebrate their favorite artists, either with in-game currency or real-world money. And since several of these games such as Fortnite and Roblox are free, the in-game items are the only things players have to spend money on.