Roblox this morning announced a partnership with Columbia Records that will allow it to bring a virtual concert experience featuring Lil Nas X to its gaming platform. Notably, this will be Roblox's first-ever virtual concert, and follows similar events that have been held during the pandemic, like the "One World: Together At Home" concert to benefit WHO in April, and Fortnite's Travis Scott concert hosted in-game, which attracted 12.3 million concurrent players at its peak.
The Lil Nas X concert, meanwhile, will be hosted in an online event space custom-designed by Roblox to allow for an immersive experience. There will be several different stages, each inspired by Lil Nas X's songs and music videos, that will use a variety of technologies, including the latest in shadowing, lighting and physically based rendering (PBR) facial recognition technologies, the company says.
During the concert, Lil Nas X will also perform his new single "Holiday" for the first time live, as well as other popular hits.
The event itself will actually be run over three showings, starting with the main event on Saturday, November 14th at 1 PM PST. The Asia showing will follow at 10 PM PST, then the European show will be on Sunday, November 15 at 9 AM PST.
In addition, Roblox and Columbia Records will host a Q&A with Lil Nas X that will be streamed in the concert venue with a preshow at 4 PM on Friday Novemebr 13.
"We're thrilled to partner with Columbia Records to bring Lil Nas X fans and the Roblox community together in an entirely new way," said Jon Vlassopulos, global head of Music at Roblox, in a statement about the event. "This concert with Lil Nas X will transport players and their friends into the Metaverse, and bring to life the future of what immersive, social experiences can look like."
Ahead of the event, the new concert venue will feature mini games and other activities for players to explore, as well as a virtual store offering exclusive merchandise, like accessories, emotes and Lil Nas X avatar bundles.
"We’re throwing the biggest virtual concert of 2020, and I hope everybody in the world can come check it out," said Lil Nas X, in a statement. "I feel very lucky to be the first artist to ever do this on Roblox. We had so much fun putting this together for my fans, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it," he added.
Roblox has been signaling an interest in expanding its platform beyond gaming in recent months, as the pandemic fueled a jump in monthly users and player spending, as well as a desire for virtual activities in general. The company in July reported it had grown to more than 150 million monthly active users, up from the 115 million it had in February, before the U.S.'s shelter-in-place orders had kicked in.
It also in July launched "Party Place," a virtual venue focused on hanging out for meetups or birthday parties.
The shift to virtual platforms for socializing has helped boost Roblox revenues, as well.
One third-party estimate, from Sensor Tower, pegged Roblox mobile spending at $94 million in September. It also suggested Roblox had passed $2 billion in spending to date. A more recent report from Safe Betting Sites estimated Roblox players spent $820 million in total from January through September 2020.
The gaming company is poised to IPO, but a date has not been disclosed.