Photo: Steam Dev Days (YouTube screenshot)
Epic boss Tim Sweeney continues to see great potential in the Metaverse and believes it can be openly designed.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has been an advocate of the Metaverse thesis for years, out of personal enthusiasm, but also out of economic interest: the Unreal graphics engine, along with Unity, is already the backbone of the games and 3D industry.
If the Metaverse takes off and the percentage of 3D content continues to rise across all walks of life, Sweeney will be among the big winners.
With Fortnite, Epic has also launched a digital platform for games and social events that play an important role in the lives of millions of young people. Sony, for example, believes in the potential of Epic and recently invested $1 billion in the Metaverse partnership.
Epic wants to keep defending the open Metaverse
Although Sweeney has repeatedly criticized Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook’s aggressive XR expansion and fears a reversal in Meta’s walled garden, the statements from the decision makers sound almost identical. Both CEOs anticipate that Metaverse will slowly grow over the years and out of the merger of many companies and technologies.
Sweeney says the Metaverse will emerge from “a lot of different things coming together over time.” One of the components is huge groups of players and friends. In Fortnite, Epic has 600 million registered accounts with 4.7 billion social connections.
Microsoft with Xbox Live, Playstation, Nintendo and Valve will have similar capabilities. Meta doesn’t mention Sweeney on that list, but says, “We’d really like to work with other partners to connect them all.”
According to Sweeney, the Metaverse is “incredibly complex” and won’t magically appear. It’s about getting a little closer to the networked ideal every year.
The president of Epic expects the creation of the Metaverse to take about ten years. He sees virtual reality and augmented reality as “two very important aspects” of technology development: “I think the convergence of both fields holds a lot of magic in themselves, so sometimes you find yourself in the physical world with virtual extensions and sometimes in one purely virtual world.”
Sweeney currently thinks the Metaverse is overrated
“We don’t want dozens of companies fighting each other to create one monopoly that rules everyone, one wins, and now everyone is locked in their property,” Sweeney says.
In this context, he idealizes the first stage of the Internet, before monopolies start and companies create walled gardens. The Metaverse can be built on the basis of open systems, open standards, and “a willingness of companies to work together based on mutual respect for their customer relationships.”
“You can jump into one ecosystem with an account and play in another, and everyone just respects those relationships. There is healthy competition for every aspect of the ecosystem,” Sweeney said of his Metaverse vision.
It’s also a shame that the Metaverse is “overrated” at the moment. In the context of Web3, the head of Epic suspects a second dot-com bubble.
“I think it’s like 1999 [Teil] Two, companies that build things that don’t work at all or at all have to make up for it. But it’s also a renaissance. The foundations for the future are now being laid.”
The full readable interview is available at Fast Company.