Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney Gives Seminal Talk on the Metaverse

GDC 2023 was filled with insight and announcements, but one brief lecture by Epic Games Founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney, was particularly fascinating and is well worth your time.

When it comes to defining the metaverse, we’re all left trying to catch fog in a net. We have a few persistent but vague notions of what it is — a 3D internet of sorts — but the foundations are still being laid and there’s no clear blueprint. Nevertheless, build we must, and there isn’t a shortage of those wanting to be the foreman.

Many candidates to lead us into the early metaverse make me uncomfortable. Either they have already proven themselves to be untrustworthy, their motives are dubious, or their motives are inconsistent with a free and open system. In the last 5 years I have been writing on Token Gamer, there is one person I have thrown in with and I believe I’ve been proven right to do so: Tim Sweeney.

This talk at GDC 2023 is brief but superb for getting a lay of the land and a summary of the potential we’re looking at. Rather than offer the cliff notes of what is covered, I would instead like to explain why Tim Sweeney and Epic Games are the best shot at a desirable metaverse.

Sweeney highlights two key themes of the metaverse: the creator economy and collaboration. The creator economy must be central to how the metaverse and Web3 as a whole function. Too many times creators are exploited for their valuable work when incentivizing them could further the gaming industry immeasurably. Epic Games has been aware of player input for decades and has supported it. Many of the younger generations of gamers will be aware of Unreal Editor as a new tool for Fortnite, but I was making maps for Unreal Tournament 20 years ago with an early form of that software (a truly talented sleuth can still find forum posts by me at that time on map creation). A game’s community can turn a simple title into an entire ecosystem if you provide the tools for them to do so, and Epic Games has a history of doing just that.

As for collaboration, this takes many forms, but the most relevant to the metaverse is interoperability. Sweeney is one of the senior figures in gaming and is preaching the benefits of interoperability in the same way idealistic gamers do — few powerful people in the industry appear to think this way, publicly at least. Furthermore, with Unreal Engine and the Epic Games Store, Epic Games has several of the key pieces in place to make it a reality.

The metaverse is a way off from being even the earliest iteration of what we envision, but fragment by fragment, it is being built. If there’s anyone you ought to back on this journey, it’s Tim Sweeney who, when it comes to the metaverse and blockchain in games, can see the wood from the trees.

(This talk is discussed at length on an upcoming episode of the Mint One podcast where we revisit an episode from 2021 on the metaverse. When it is live, I will link it here.)

Robert Baggs
Robert Baggs
Full-time professional crypto writer and Editor of Token Gamer. Co-host of the Mint One Podcast. Obsessed with MMOs. London based. Primary holdings: WAXP, ENJ, & BTC. Secondary holdings: ETH, GALA, & MATIC

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