Fortnite

Money Making The Metaverse

By being infinitely finite, the metaverse offers us a creatively special moment

By Mark Eaves

“Our aim of Fortnite is to build something like a metaverse from science fiction.”

Metaverse?

A court reporter needed clarification.

“It’s a virtual world for socializing and entertainment”, Mr. Sweeney said.

Opening statement of Epic Games CEO, TIm Sweeney in Epic Games vs Apple, Oakland Court, California, 3 May 2021 as reported by the New York Times.

This is the day the metaverse leapt from the chatroom to the boardroom. The moment the word stopped being a Reddit-friendly neologism, and became the de facto future of global digital value creation.

In what will be a landmark court case - whichever way it goes - Tim Sweeney used his opening statement in Epic’s bold legal challenge to the App Store financial model to cleverly re-frame Apple’s commission on developers as a tariff on your freedom to roam. A tax on t’internet. Fortnite, he argued, is not merely a mobile app game you download. It is a metaverse - a rich, constant world you inhabit, brimming with virtual life.

For the big tech groups it’s clear: a unified metaverse is their best bet to extend a record earnings trajectory and expand that corporate footprint across our virtual selves. But having glimpsed into the metaverse of the boardroom these last few weeks - well let’s say some of it is sounding less fun.

Microsoft - an admirable company in many ways - recently tipped towards their vision for the future “enterprise universe”. More time on Teams, anyone? Whilst over in the Zuckerverse, there’s dystopian vibes rising as Facebook seeks to reinvent itself as a full “metaverse company” with a future bringing better “f​​ocus time and individual productivity”. That sounds fun, doesn’t it? They’ve already released a product for Oculus called the (err, Ready, Player One?) “infinite office”. Hello, it’s the internet calling - they want their weekends back.

So let’s leave the Nasdaq for a moment and get back to basic principles.

A future where my Facebook log-in might be my boarding card to all my virtual travels is a grim prospect. A fundamental tenet of a successful metaverse is the open freedom to roam. And if it is to be truly the creative playground of self-expression that it promises, we need fresh creative gateways. And fewer walled gardens.

Because for creativity, this is a special moment.

It’s about choosing new creative futures - like the next generation of fashion designers, choosing to work in code, not cloth.

The last 10 years of the internet were driven by the copyable, the repeatable, the shareable.

Now the presence of digital scarcity as a viable concept moves us towards the unique, the rare, the precious.

A metaverse that can be infinitely finite.

This is creatively exciting.

It would be a tragedy if the same big players who drove web 2.0 merely stretched their dominance. Money will undoubtedly make the metaverse go round, but we want a flow of new disruptors taking a decent share of that crypto as their creative reward.

So it’s Game on.

In every sense.

Mark Eaves is co-founder of Gravity Road

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