Upcoming free-to-play PlayStation Vita title Big Fest isn't just entertainment for its players — it's a secret and smartly constructed exposure tool for the unsigned bands whose music features in the game.
Big Fest, in development with On The Metal, gives players a shot at managing their own music festivals. It's similar to the Tycoon series of games, but this time the focus is music and propelling your concert venue into the spotlight. Players take on the role of a music promoter, sifting through a library of songs from real-world bands — all of them unsigned — and making them the stars of their shows. All music has been made available in the game through collaboration with digital music platform Jamendo, allowing players to give them real-world air time to both themselves and other players viewing their concerts.
"These aren't popular bands, these aren't the songs you'll find in SingStar," Sony Computer Entertainment America ISD producer Nick Accordino explained to Polygon. "They're all indie. We've teamed up with Jamendo to bring a huge portion of their catalog to the game.
"There's benefits from both sides: as a player you're discovering new music, and from the band side you're getting a whole new audience of people that won't normally hear your music," he added. "For example, I don't own the Jamendo app — but I'm listening to this band I've never heard before on my Vita. From a gamer's perspective, that's kind of cool."
But in addition to the music in Big Fest, players have to think about the other things that make outdoor concert venues appealing: food and drink vendors, bathrooms, camping grounds and other attractions like ferris wheels and rides.
Players will be able to measure how well-received their venue is with the Vibe meter, a gauge on the top of the screen that will go up the more people like your concerts. This vibe can be killed by a number of things, including poor or no places to eat and the appearance of hippies and rogue streakers.
Big Fest also includes asynchronous multiplayer, which allows players to visit others' games and help them boost their vibe — as well as sabotage them. Players will have the option to not only help grow their friends' concerts and fix things that are broken, but they'll be able to prank them as well by destroying their speakers or other venue pieces.
"When you're not there, [other players] will be able to enter your Big Fest and do things," Accordino said. "It's really about having a completely customizable experience and enjoy the music... But you're also micromanaging your fans, you're pumping them up, making them happy."
Big Fest is free-to-play, but there will be purchase options allowing players to unlock items and upgrades more quickly. The title is slated to hit PlayStation Vita this fall.