When you think of video games, you probably don’t imagine dressing up for a night on the town. Well, grab your coat, because game publishers have adopted an innovative way to market and reinforce their brands through video game concerts. These live performances are melodically making their way across the world, a touring marketing effort that has grown in popularity over the last few years.
Most recently, Hello Games announced a tour to promote No Man’s Sky, a science fiction video game scheduled to launch August 9. The No Man’s Sky soundtrack, written by British band, 65daysofstatic, features two albums of music to be performed live across Europe this fall. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of Tomb Raider, Square Enix will host a live performance in London this year to debut its new musical collection, The Tomb Raider Suite.
Telling stories through song is an age-old tradition, and video game soundtracks have become a indispensable storytelling tool. From the iconic Super Mario Brothers theme to the Grammy award-winning music of Civilization IV, game developers and publishers are adding more emphasis (and budget) to the musical side of their brands. Renowned composers are expanding their portfolios from film and TV to game music, including Hans Zimmer (Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2), Sir Paul McCartney (Destiny) and Bear McCreary (God of War).
Sony’s E3 press conference started in a new way this year, with a live orchestra conducted by Bear McCreary. The composer, known for his work on The Walking Dead and Black Sails recalls the moment on his blog: “I gave the cue and my God of War theme was heard by an audience for the first time,” he writes. “The moment the melody reached its climactic notes, the audience erupted into cheers, as if what they heard was the chorus to their favorite song. But, they had never heard it before! I had always hoped the theme would resonate with fans, and at that exact moment, I knew it had.”
In 2005, video game composers, Tommy Tallarico (Prince of Persia) and Jack Wall (Mass Effect) debuted Video Games Live, an annual concert series that celebrates the art of game music in partnership with local symphony orchestras. “It’s the power and emotion of a symphony orchestra mixed with the excitement and energy of a rock concert,” says the official website. “[It’s the] technology and interactivity of a video game all completely synchronized to amazing cutting edge video screen visuals, state-of-the-art lighting and special on-stage interactive segments with the audience.”
Capcom Live debuted this spring with a “Video Game Orchestra” following the rock and soundtrack mash-up that Video Games Live made popular.
Video game concerts reinforce a brand by drawing fans together as a community, celebrating the legacy of a franchise and introducing new generations to both games and the art of music. By reminding fans of their favorite video game moments, brands connect with their audiences on an emotional, symphonious and lasting level.