Last week Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite and the Epic Games Store, has completed a $1 billion funding round to develop its vision for the metaverse. The investment includes money from Sony Group Corporation and other investment groups. Epic will it to develop the metaverse in the long term, while adding more social events to games like Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys.
CEO Tim Sweeney is a big supporter of the metaverse. Even though Epic Games is best known for Fortnite and its online game store, they also made widely-used technology standards. Think about the Unreal Engine, which has been used in digital art and video games alike. In addition they recently showcased Metahuman Creator. This could become a new standard for creating one digital character across a variety of platforms.
What Epic Games is creating, is not an online world. However, it’s a bunch of tools that will create open-standards, and allow all kinds of creators to make content easily. Sweeney has been promoting concepts of the metaverse for years now. The metaverse is not one game world, and doesn’t have one graphical style. However, the metaverse allows users freely transfer data, value and their identity across a variety of application, worlds, games and tools.
Why is this exciting?
The metaverse is a concept that ties in closely with blockchain technology, virtual worlds and cryptocurrencies. Seeing a company like Epic Games, which has decades of history in the gaming industry, getting funding to work on their vision for open-standards in the metaverse is of course interesting. Their recent showcase of the Metahuman Creator blew people’s minds. Now imagine this becoming the tool to create your personal character, which can then be used in different worlds. Think about Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, Somnium Space, but also in Fortnite and VR Chat.
We’re definitely not there yet. Developing open standards requires companies working together to embrace those standards. As long as there’s no shared vision, the concept of the metaverse can’t grow. Software needs to become more compatible and connected. In addition blockchain technology needs to become faster with an improved user experience. Ideally every building block of the metaverse needs to follow an open standard. We’d need standardized data about objects, locations, sounds, the way objects interact, we communicate, and so on. For now Ready Player One is a goal the industry works towards, but of course without the evil corporation. I hope.