Why are Facebook with Meta and Epic Games focusing so much on the metaverse? And what is the role of video games? The explanation gives us a leap in 2030 …
The year is 2030. You’re dining while your kids (adults who can’t start a family due to inflation) sit next to you, dabbing and wearing a VR helmet that feeds them spoonfuls of G-Fuel. Scroll your Twitter feed with an EyePhone, eye implants that render the internet in full augmented reality, and check out your video game library, now curated by a handful of huge companies that have incorporated all the smaller ones. Read a tweet and unlock an achievement for connecting for the first time in the day.
Come Ready Player One —
According to the tweet, Sonic is playable in Fortnite. It’s not a skin, it’s a whole game, the new Sonic Origins. Epic Games owns Sega in 2030, along with a handful of other huge mid-tier publishers and developers. Microsoft, Sony, Embracer Group, EA and Tencent all the others possess.
Out of pure curiosity, start Fortnite and find out what it has become come Ready Player One: an entirely digital world in which to play, meet friends, have fun… in one word, live as in an alternative reality. There is no need for a console, as it comes pre-installed on all TVs, eye implants and VR headsets. Head to Fortnite Plaza, a hub area where all your friends and family are enjoying their free time. Your wife is here, although she hates video games, because Epic has a deal with the big supermarkets where you can get a big discount available only for those who shop in the metaverse. He is strolling through the virtual shelves of a virtual store and filling a shopping cart, something Epic began to master when it implemented the shopping cart functionality in the Epic Games Store in 2025.
The Fortnite metaverse –
Hop into your Rocket League car and whiz around in search of Sonic, passing live gigs with real bouncers checking everyone’s tickets before entering – the metaverse is a place to play but it’s also the workplace for many. Shake your head and glide through Call of Duty Town, where people play the new Warzone map. To your left, another player tries to start a run with you, but he’s dressed as Cucumber Rick so go to the social menu and block him, removing him from your instance. A little further on is a help desk that is hiring admin to patrol Fortnite Plaza and make sure people are enjoying the product rather than being mean to others. Endless billboards they promote fast food and electric cars.
Finally, reach your destination. Sonic Origins, a new Sonic game within Fortnite. In reality, it’s less of a game and more of a minigame, but at least playing it earns you a backpack to wear in the mode Fortnite Battle Royale.
The future of video games (and more) –
This is the future that video game companies have foreseen. An industry that is consolidating and in which everyone is chasing “The blue ocean”, a market strategy where competition is irrelevant because the rules of the game are still being decided. Everyone wants to be the first to build a metaverse, own more brands, and have as much power in their hands as possible over all the works of art that people care about. It’s not just Epic Games – almost everyone wants a slice.
Just this week, Epic Games announced that it has acquired Harmonix, the developer known for Rock Band. Harmonix “will collaborate closely with Epic to develop musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite”, according to a note from Epic, which means that we will probably not see more Harmonix rhythm games: they will be only a part of Fortnite from now on. Epic Games also owns Psyonix, the creators of Rocket League, and Tonic Games Group, the home behind Fall Guys. And rest assured that others will follow.
“It’s no secret that Epic is interested in building the metaverse, and Tonic Games shares that goal,” Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said at the time. “Epic works to build this virtual future, but we need great creative talent who know how to create powerful games, content and experiences.”
“Contents and experiences”: this is the important part of the declaration. This is the real plan. Epic Games will continue to incorporate studies to power everything Fortnite can do. Consolidation (the practice whereby large fish eat small fish, becoming bigger and bigger and, in fact, solid) is the enemy of diversity. The goal is make all games, everything, Fortnite. We’re already seeing commercials for Nike Jordan, John Wick, and Nfl popping up in the game, and we’re getting closer to a dystopian world that looks like it’s straight out of Blade Runner.
Why is it a problem –
The fact is that in some ways we already live in the metaverse. Log into Twitter on your phone and you’re in another world full of people you probably won’t interact with once you’re out of it. Twitter has made people take jobs, get in trouble, and meet a partner. The web is already impacting our lives in real and tangible ways. The idea of metaverse video games is just another way to “entertain” people for money. In the last few years, “Engagement” was a key metric for the success of video game companies. But was it a metric that did gamers good? No not at all.
The fact that players need to be constantly entertained in their video games is what has led to the creation of games as a service, battle passes and open world games where you play the game. same exact activity 5,000 times. It is what gave the loot boxes and all the similar mechanics, which have the sole objective of making us continue playing, and the metaverse is only an extension of it. And this path will lead to a situation where fewer smaller creators will be able to do the things they want to do, and more giant games and experiences that require all of your free time, luring you in with constant events and limited-time offers to keep you coming back.
This is not good for the developers either. Sure, consolidation helps some struggling teams stay afloat in the same way it does working externally, but do developers really want to work on the same project forever? It sounds difficult, and this will ultimately lead to creative burnout and the death of talent. After all, if you don’t like working in video games, why not try the much more lucrative route of software development? The events of recent times show a glimpse of the future, and what we have seen so far is certainly not exciting.
Written by Kirk McKeand for GLHF
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Ready Player One is reality: the role of video games and why it is a problem