While the word “metaverse” pops up in my inbox so often, it’s essentially the email equivalent of white noise now, when Epic Games has made a specific metaverse investment, you’ll want to start paying attention. Epic is investing in metaverse infrastructure developer Hadean as part of their latest $30 million funding round, and this could have major implications for the company’s future.
Epic Games, creator of Fortnite, owns one of the many video game-based metaverses that existed before the term was even popular, alongside other games like Roblox and Minecraft. Unlike the mostly bare-bones blockchain-based metaverses that were in the headlines a while ago selling NFT land plots, games like Fortnite have thriving ecosystems and massively attended virtual events for their communities.
Now it looks like Epic wants to scale up those events even further, making sure its metaverse ambitions aren’t limited to the 100-player battle royale total we usually see from them. Here’s Epic’s VP of Unreal Engine Ecosystem, Marc Petit, on the investment:
“Hadean’s computing power will provide the infrastructure needed as we work to create a scalable metaverse,” said Petit. “The company’s technology complements Epic’s Unreal Engine by enabling massive amounts of concurrent users and unlocking new tools for creators and developers. We are excited to contribute to Hadean’s growth and look forward to continuing to work together to lay the groundwork for the metaverse.”
So while this may directly affect Fortnite, it’s suggested it could be used to extend Unreal technology more broadly as games using the Epic engine want large-scale community events and more and more players at once.
You can see the current issue within Fortnite for yourself. Epic may have a live event on the Fortnite map, a Travis Scott concert, or a scripted monster fight, but it should be broken into instances of just 100 players each, the map’s maximum. In the pursuit of further scalability, Epic believes Hadean’s “open platform for distributed cloud computing” could be part of the solution. And I’m confident that Epic plans to dramatically expand Fortnite beyond its Battle Royale focus in the future, building out a more complete metaverse-like world for players to exist in, though they haven’t yet. specific plans. This technology could be part of how that comes together in the long run.
While Hadean has worked with Web3 metaverses and partially leverages blockchain technology, it’s unclear what role the blockchain could play in all of this for Epic. While Minecraft has banned NFTs and Steam doesn’t allow blockchain games, Epic Games is a bit more open to the concept, allowing at least a few Web3 games on the Epic Game Store. But it doesn’t look like this technology would mean a massive switch to relying on the blockchain, nor anything like introducing NFTs into the Fortnite ecosystem. The key point here is achieving scalability beyond what Fortnite and the Unreal Engine as a whole can do now.
“Today’s virtual worlds are a limited experience — small-scale, isolated, and insecure,” said Craig Beddis, co-founder and CEO of Hadean. And he’s right, given the limits we’re seeing on the number of players, which means big virtual events need to be broken down into hundreds of thousands of instances so everyone can experience the same thing. This may be the way to change that, but it’s unclear how long it may take to see the fruits of this investment specifically for Epic.
follow me on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to my free weekly content newsletter digest, God rolls.
Get my sci-fi novels on the Herokiller Series and The Earthborn Trilogy.