Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeney, explains how the ideal Metaverse will work one day
Tim Sweeney has high hopes for an open Metaverse ecosystem one day, with Fortnite and Roblox leading the way
Timm Sweeney and Saxs Persson from Epic Games attended and presented at the State of Unreal event that took place at GDC. While they discussed animation tools, asset marketplaces, and other fun technological aspects, the one topic I want to focus on today is the Metaverse. Both Sweeney and Persson have some interesting views, especially about an open ecosystem where different parties share assets across games.
The discussion took place in an interview that Andrew Webster from The Verge had with Sweeney and Persson following the event. The first question covered what Sweeney believes is an adequate definition of the Metaverse:
“It’s just an online social entertainment experience in a real-time 3D setting. You and your friends, going around having fun together, in a 3D world.”
Now, if I just read that answer with no context, I would assume he’s talking about an MMORPG like Elder Scrolls Online. However, reading the interview further, he gives more definition to his summary of the Metaverse. Basically, it doesn’t only involve games. It’s a virtual ecosystem where people can come together online as if they’re really there and just spend time together.
Now, if you’ve watched Supergirl Season 5 on Netflix (yes, I love that show), you’ll know that there’s something similar on it called Obsidian Platinum. People put on these eye devices that make them feel like they’re completely immersed in a virtual world. I reckon that’s as close to Sweeney’s definition of a Metaverse as we’re going to get at the moment.
Let’s get to the important part that has me excited. Sweeney and Persson believe that we’re moving towards an open Metaverse in the future. What does that mean? Well, at the moment we have a closed Metaverse system. Every company investing in virtual property is doing so in isolation. Some are using Java, Fortnite runs on Verse, while Roblox is working on Luau. At the moment, you can’t share assets from one to the other.
Sweeney says an open ecosystem means you can buy items in Fortnite that you can then take with you to Roblox. It’s just an example, and it can be used on a broader scale. If Zenimax and Bethesda take ESO to the next level with the Metaverse, you can possibly ride your dark horse from hell into Fortnite.
An important point is how the two Epic Games executives see the engagement between Metaversians. They don’t want it to be like Twitter where free speech includes yelling, swearing, and belittling. Now, I’m quite familiar with how Fortnite works at the moment. You can create parties and talk about anything you want. If someone is abusive or says things the party doesn’t want to hear, they kick that player. You can’t do that on Twitter.
Fortnite already has some form of a Metaverse going on that shows just how well it can work. I’ve watched my son play online with friends in random arenas where they don’t even fight. They build structures and chase each other and play virtual tag, just for the fun of it. There’s a Battle Pass to complete, there are quests waiting…but nooooo. They want to run around, laugh, and have the best time of their lives.
According to Tim Sweeney, this is the type of Metaverse they want to build for Fortnite. However, he takes it a step further. He says an open Metaverse is definitely a possibility, stating that Metcalfe's law comes into play. Yes, I also had to look up what that is, so here’s a definition from Wikipedia:
“Metcalfe's law states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2).”
What does that have to do with gaming and the Metaverse? According to Sweeney, it means that the ecosystem will be so massive that there would be no reason for games like Fortnite and Roblox to keep assets to themselves. There would be a shared royalty or payment system, or at least, the money would be sent to the right parties. From there, it doesn’t matter where they bought it from.
You can look at it as a central shopping mall in the virtual world. You can buy clothes, weapons, and armor outside of the games, and then take them into the game world with you. Of course, those games would need to support those assets, which is what Sweeney would like to work towards.
This article ended up much longer than I intended, but that’s how excited I am about the idea of an open Metaverse ecosystem. I can take assets from my favorite games like ESO, Diablo IV, Call of Duty, and so many more! Imagine dropping into Warzone with a magical staff and Argonian armor!
Alright, my imagination is getting away from me, but all hail Tim Sweeney’s vision for the Metaverse.
Since I spoke about Diablo IV, I took part in the open beta last night and made a video of me running around as a Druid. There are a few bugs, but it was such a good time.