Fortnite could beat Silicon Valley in the race to build the Metaverse
The Metaverse is frequently described as the next version of the Internet. Metaverse is a term that comes from science fiction, describing a shared, virtual space that is persistently online and active, even without people logging in. Many believe that the Metaverse is inevitable, and the Silicon Valley C-suite and a video game company in Cary, N.C. have been obsessed with the idea.
Recently, there has been serious talk about building the Metaverse and about who will build it first. There is the genuine possibility that Fortnite, the video game that became a sensation that turned celebrities into players and players into celebrities, has been building the foundations of the Internet’s future.
Fortnite’s creators at Epic Games haven’t been shy about this ambition. Its CEO, Tim Sweeney, has made overt references establishing Fortnite as something more than a game. He has even given a hint that this transformation could begin by the end of this year. Sweeney tweeted in December 2019, “Fortnite is a game. But ask that question again in 12 months.”
The Metaverse reality is still years and possibly decades away. But Fortnite’s CEO has been publicly pushing for its creation, and he is not alone in his desire to build the virtual Internet space. Constructing the Metaverse is the macro goal of many in Silicon Valley. Facebook, Samsung, and Google have all invested heavily in cloud computing and VR companies in anticipation of a Metaverse. Facebook Horizon, a virtual reality social space intended to serve as a Metaverse, was announced in 2019. Google’s shared workspace tools were also a significant step to institutionalize work culture online.
According to an essay by venture capitalist and former Amazon executive Matthew Ball, Epic Games, with Fortnite, has the most viable path forward in creating the Metaverse. Although Fortnite’s entry into the Metaverse race was an accident, the gaming industry has been tackling the possibility of making it for years.
“We’re seeing this advancement of technology and Internet interaction and the Metaverse coming from gaming because it tends to be at the forefront of something designed for many, and who have the highest [technological] needs,” Ball told The Washington Post in an interview.
In 2017, Fortnite was created as a four-player game about defending a base. Through 2018, it developed a reputation as less of a video game and more as Gen Z’s preferred social platform. Epic Games never planned for Fortnite to be such a cultural touchstone, that will inspire everything from World Cup celebrations to Netflix considering the game, not HBO, its biggest competitor.
Fortnite has not reached Metaverse status yet. But Fortnite as a social network provides Epic Games a vital advantage for leading the Metaverse race. Fortnite draws an excited and willing audience online to engage with intellectual properties.
Of course, Fortnite is not the only instance of a game displaying critical traits of the Metaverse. According to the Wall Street Journal, some investors believe that Roblox, which allows users to create their own games, will build the Metaverse, as proven by a recent $4 billion valuation. The game Minecraft recently showcased an excellent example of the online world’s flexibility regarding intellectual property.