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Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney Shares Thoughts On The Metaverse, Crypto, And Antitrust

In a recent interview with Fast Company, Epic Games’ CEO Tim Sweeney waxed poetic on the current climate of his industry, with an emphasis on the metaverse, crypto, and antitrust. Sweeney’s company is responsible for Fortnite, which grew from game to metaverse in an organic way.

People began lingering in Fortnite’s 3D world after they were done playing, just to hang out with friends. Realizing this, Epic began hosting planned events for Fortnite players, like concerts and movie previews.

“About half of Fortnite play time by users is now in content created by others, and half is in Epic content,” said Sweeney. “And that’s just the very beginning. Later this year, we’re going to release the Unreal Editor for Fortnite–the full capabilities that you’ve seen [in Unreal Engine] opened up so that anybody can build very high-quality game content and code . . . and deploy it into Fortnite without having to do a deal with us–it’s open to everybody.”

Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 was released earlier this month, which includes new tools for creating highly detailed 3D objects with automated natural lighting effects. Unreal Engine seems like the perfect tool to build up metaverse experiences.

While Sweeney is excited over the prospects of the metaverse market, he worries that there could be problems if the metaverse is ruled by one or two major corporations:

“I think it’s not just the foremost economic issue and the world economy now, I also think you can’t have a free world if you don’t have freedom online and freedom on platforms,” said Sweeney. “If you have two corporations controlling all world discourse and kowtowing to governments–especially oppressive governments–to act as agents on their behalf and spy on users and sources of opinion and dissent, then I think the world you end up with isn’t one we’d want to live in. I think it would be quite a horrible place. So, I think it’s a first-class social issue that we don’t let any of these giant mega-corporations control online commerce, discourse, and control the metaverse.”

This worry over platform dominance extends to cryptocurrency as well.

“There are some great ideas and principles driving that work,” added Sweeney. “The idea of a digital economy that’s not gate-kept by any one company, which is decentralized and open to all participants and has incredibly low transaction fees, that’s an awesome aspiration. I support the idea of universal ownership–the idea that if you were to buy an avatar in one place that you’d own it in every other place where it’s conceptually compatible. That’s an awesome idea. I think there’s a lot of incredibly interesting technology foundation work being done there. The field of zero knowledge proofs–the idea that you can verify that something happened without receiving any private details about it–that powers a number of the cryptocurrencies in protecting privacy while running a decentralized system, I think that’s going to be the backbone of a large part of the next century in technology.”

Despite his reservations, Sweeney has high hopes for all three of these ideas. The best thing would be for communication and synergy between all of these companies, who instead of looking to dominate, should be looking to collaborate.

“This larger ecosystem, the metaverse, is going to arise from a lot of different things coming together over time,” concluded Sweeney. “One of them is going to be massive groups of players and their friends, which are represented in social graphs. Epic has one with 600 million accounts and 4.7 billion social connections. Microsoft has a huge one with Xbox Live, and PlayStation has one, and Nintendo has one, and Steam has one. We’d really like to work with other partners to connect them all together.”

(All information was provided by Fast Company)

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