Imagining µniverse: The B2C Metaverse (Part 7)

Epic Games Vision

One CEO who has been at the forefront of the metaverse conversation has been Tim Sweeney of Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite. Here are some excerpts from his interview with Joseph Kim in July 2020:

The Metaverse is going to be some sort of real time 3D social medium where instead of sending messages and pictures to each other asynchronously, you’re together with them and in a virtual world and interacting and having fun experiences which might span anything from purely games to purely social experiences.

The other critical element of the Metaverse is it’s not just built by one mega corporation, right? It’s gonna be the work, the creative work of millions of people who can each add their own elements to it through content creation and programing and design. And the other way of adding value.

So it will be a massively participatory medium of a type that we really haven’t seen yet. And even though you have Fortnite and Minecraft and Roblox each manifest some aspects of it, I think we’re still pretty far from having the thing. But yet the talk about this thing is it’s not just the work of one company. It’s not just one company’s product or revenue stream. Right. We’re talking about a mass participatory media, which needs to be an economy if there’s not an economy underlying this thing.

And so the critical thing with this effort is to build out not just a 3D platform and to have technical standards, but also a fair economy in which all creators can participate, make money and be rewarded in an economy with both the principles ensuring that customers are treated fairly, that there is not, you know, massive fraud or scheming or scams. But also one in which companies have the freedom to release their own content and to profit from it.

GamesBeat has more, in an interview of Tim Sweeney by Dean Takahashi in April 2021:

Sweeney said he started thinking about the metaverse more seriously in 2017, after Fortnite succeeded. He said it became apparent that all of the science fiction writers were talking about the same thing, even though it had some crazy ideas attached to it.

“We realized that you don’t need this crazy technology to do this,” he said. “We have everything we need right now. And the limiting factor on becoming reality is not much more than that. Developers learning what elements really make for awesome online social experiences, continuity of experience, and science fiction.”

… I asked Sweeney what the killer attraction of the metaverse would be. He said the killer feature is simply getting together with your friends to have great social experiences, like going outdoors for a walk. That’s more fun than just sitting on a couch and talking.

“In a game environment, you can constantly go back and forth between the real world stuff and what’s happening in-game and it’s constantly engaging and constantly messing up the conversation,” he said. “I think that’s a key ingredient. And I think this mechanic is essential. It’s been mechanically proven out in dozens of different genres of games. Every genre that we know is going to be represented.”

I noted that Fortnite has added concerts and brands, and so I wonder if Fortnite will evolve into its own metaverse.

Sweeney said, “I think I think there will be a linear evolution. It’s not going to be a massive sudden disruption. It’s going to be a meeting place for individuals and creators of all sizes, including brands. Every company will be there at some point. If you are a car manufacturer, your brand presence in the metaverse isn’t going to be a bunch of advertising for your cars. It’s going to be a place where you can actually drive the cars around and feel the experience of it. You can use a Corvette in the game. We have an opportunity for much, much more interesting interactions.”

… “The pandemic severed a lot of real world physical contact that people had,” Sweeney said. “Everyone quickly migrated to replacing that with virtual connections, with social network usage, Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, and Zoom.” quotes Rami Ismail: “The idea of creating an alternative world in which everyone has to use your currency, play by your rules and everyone wants to promote their brands is really appealing to rich people. I mean, I guess we are talking about Fortnite after all.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.