Grand Theft Auto Online is soon getting its own concert venue with the planned opening of The Music Locker, an underground nightclub that will feature real-world DJs in residence. The announcement on Monday means developer Rockstar Games is taking cues from other savvy multiplayer games like Fortnite and Roblox.
Those games and many others in the online social scene have begun transforming their virtual spaces into entertainment destinations that, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have become vital ways to fill the gap left by the lack of live music and other real-world events.
Epic’s approach with Fortnite has been to book big-name acts in electronic music and hip-hop, like Diplo and Travis Scott, to perform surreal sets on its virtual island, all as part of its new Party Royale mode. But Rockstar is aiming for a more realistic approach grounded in the real-world underground electronic music scene. The developer is designing The Music Locker like a venue you might actually attend in real life, located beneath The Diamond in-game casino and resort in its fictionalized version of Los Angeles.
The Music Locker has also secured iconic names in DJing like Detroit-based producer Moodymann and Berlin collective Keinemusik to be its first artists in residence, each seemingly getting their own custom GTA Online avatars. Rockstar will even let you enjoy high-roller status with VIP perks you can only obtain if you’ve purchased a penthouse suite at The Diamond.
This isn’t a big departure for the Grand Theft Auto franchise. The open-world crime series has always secured high-profile artists for its in-game radio stations. One of its most prominent additions to 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V was producer Flying Lotus, who was given his own radio station (FlyLo FM) and the liberty to curate his own track list.
But given the current environment around events and entertainment, it makes sense Rockstar would want to find ways to give fans of GTA Online a way to experience at least some of the sensations of live music. And it’s also doing so in a way that gives artists a chance to perform again, specifically DJs and producers (and not just huge mainstream ones) who have been hit hard by the complete evaporation of real-world nightlife during the coronavirus pandemic.