Tim Sweeney wants Epic to help build a metaverse that’s really positive

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Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney explained in a live stream on Thursday what he called his “grand vision” for the company, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the company is building that Fortnite wants to help usher in the best version of the metaverse.

According to Sweeney, Epic wants to use those pieces to help people create good metaverses. “What we’re going to be doing at Epic for the next few years is putting these pieces together into something that’s getting closer and closer to the metaverse of science fiction,” Sweeney said at the end of Epic’s “Yearly Review 2022” live stream for Unreal Engine. “Not the dystopian version of the science fiction metaverse. But the really positive ones where you and your friends get together in a real-time 3D social experience and explore the whole world.” Epic has already indicated one way it plans to do that with the kid-oriented metaverse it’s building with Lego.

“It is the creation of all of humanity’s best content creators from all walks of life”

Sweeney, a vocal critic of Apple and Google’s restrictive app store policies, also foresees that the world people explore will be open. “The world is not just the creation of Epic or any other company, but it is the creation of the best content creators of humanity from all walks of life and all countries putting their best things together.” The company believes it’s possible for a million developers to build content and a billion players to play that content, he said.

We might have seen a preview of Epic’s next-generation tools for making metaverse creations on Thursday… if they had worked. Fortnite already offers a robust Creative mode that allows players to build worlds in the game (and they can be very lucrative). But Epic has been hint at a much more comprehensive set of tools for which it calls the Unreal Editor Fortnite (UEFN), which will even have its own scripting language called Verse. Epic planned to show off UEFN during Thursday’s livestream, but ultimately couldn’t; “It worked yesterday, but it doesn’t work today,” Sweeney said.

In November, Sweeney said the UEFN had been postponed “late January 2023,” but now it sounds like it could miss that timeline too. Sweeney joked Thursday that it will ship “sometime between Jan. 31 and about Jan. 90.”

It will likely be a long road between Epic’s vision and actually seeing it play out in practice. But as more developers use Unreal Engine across disciplines, and as more people play Epic’s crossover-filled games, it’s easy to see which path Epic takes. Whether we actually want to spend our time in the metaverse is another story, but at least for now, Fortnite is just as fun as it’s ever beenand it also looks good.

During the live stream, Epic also gave a small update on the popularity of the Epic Games Store. It now has “a global audience north of 60 million monthly active users,” according to Epic’s Tina Wisdom, which is a slight drop from Epic’s reported 62 million. in December 2021. It’s not clear what counts as a monthly active user, and I’m guessing some of them are people like me who only log in to claim the free giveaways and don’t actually play them.

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