The metaverse’s future according to Epic Games

Following an Epic Games event at the recent Game Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco that included a slew of announcements:

The Verge’s Andrew Webster spoke to CEO Tim Sweeney and Executive VP Saxs Persson about where the company fits into their vision of “an online social entertainment experience in a real-time 3D setting … [where] you and your friends [are] going around having fun together, in a 3D world”. They think that doing all of this at scale is important, too. “There’s a whole lot more value to your ecosystem if all of your friends are in it”,

Saxs Persson

“We’re just trying to broaden something that we already see today in Fortnite. That’s all we’re doing really is doubling down on the things that we know are successful today. f you play with your friends, if you have more choice, you stay longer, play more, you enjoy your time more. The formula is pretty simple.”

Saxs Persson

Open standards

“The web has a standard for scripting behavior called Javascript. Fortnite has Verse, Roblox has Luau, and they are candidates that could be weighed as open standards for the future. And every engine has its own networking protocol for servers to talk to each other and to clients. Those are all proprietary, but those could be standardized over time.”

Tim Sweeney
Tim Sweeney

Tim Sweeney’s future is one where companies and platforms coexist in a larger universe, compete on merits and deal .

“You could code an outfit in Blender, import it into Unreal Engine, and it’s the same model; you could import it into Unity, and you’d have near-visual equivalence. It would generally just work. But what you don’t have yet are standards for economic interoperability. 

The Fortnite economy that we’ve launched is based on revenue sharing, recognizing that it’s the engagement with players and islands that drives people to spend money in the outfit shop. There’s a feedback loop there, and the economy recognizes that through revenue sharing. You’d need standards for implementing that across different game environments.

We can’t do this overnight because game engines are not interoperable at a base level. It’s not like we could just make a decision and Unity and Unreal will work together. It doesn’t work like that. It’ll take years and years to do this. But it’s important we start the work now with the right intentions.”

“In order to have growth, you need to have a healthy competition between everybody that’s in the ecosystem. That in and of itself will be the driver of growth because people are encouraged to go and invest. But you wouldn’t invest in an ecosystem if you knew that you were disadvantaged. The objective is not to win — the objective is to be open to any ecosystem.”

Saxs Persson

How open and cooperative and indeed successful the growing multiverse will be remains to be seen but one of the main players is at least making noises that indicate it is trying to play its part.

Tim Sweeney image: State Of Unreal