Future titans of the Metaverse: Part 6
Updated: Sep 25, 2022
In this ongoing series we explore the past, present and potential future of the largest players in the Metaverse. Today, we’re taking a look at Epic Games.
The American video game software developer and publisher was founded in 1991 by Tim Sweeney. Originally Potomac Computer Systems, then Epic MegaGames, Inc., Epic Games was creating in 1999 following the move of the company’s headquarters to Cary, North Carolina, where it remains today. It’s worth noting that 40% of Epic Games is owned by another future titan of the Metaverse, Chinese technology and entertainment conglomerate Tencent.
Epic’s rise to prominence in the games industry is founded on the company’s Unreal Engine, a 3D computer graphics game engine developed by Sweeney, and first showcased in the 1998 first-person shooter game Unreal. The latest version of the company’s Unreal Engine, Unreal Engine 5, was released on the 5th of April, 2022. The Unreal Engine features a high degree of portability, supporting a wide range of desktop, mobile, console and virtual reality platforms. Unreal Engine 5 supports all existing systems including the next-generation consoles PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series.
The Unreal Engine 5 is an incredibly powerful Metaverse tool, because is allows developers to create massive open world maps, or entire Metaworlds, in a very short time. Heralded as a “game changer”, the Unreal Engine 5 includes a number of powerful Metaverse modelling tools. The Lumen lighting system, which simulates dynamic global illumination and reflections, will help to create more realistic and immersive environments. The virtualized geometry system, Nanite, works dynamically to reduce the number of polygons in an object to that which can be perceived. That is, Nanite automatically adjusts object detail to reflect how far away it is, because an object in the distance doesn’t require the same level of detail as one that is right in front of you. This is important because rendering slows games down. Nanite massively reduces the power needed to render objects, which is important when navigating virtual worlds in real-time. The Megascans asset library provides developers with over 16,000 assets, including 3D objects, plants, trees, and surfaces, all scanned from real-life objects. This asset library will help Metaworld developers to create more photorealistic and immersive environments. And Metahumans allows developers to create realistic humans in minutes and then import them into their newly-created worlds. All of these modelling tools are on display in the company’s highly impressive tech demo The Matrix Awakens: An Unreal Engine 5 Experience.
As a video game software developer and publisher, Epic Games has a vested interest in the Metaverse. The company’s online video game Fortnite has hundreds of millions of users and includes Metaverse experiences other than gaming. Back in November 2018, long before most of us had even heard of the Metaverse, American electronic music producer and DJ Christopher Comstock, otherwise known as Marshmello, made history by performing the first ever in-game concert in Fortnite. Fast-forward to 2020, and Travis Scott’s Astronomical Tour in Fortnite attracted over 45 million viewers.
Epic Games inclusion in the recently announced Metaverse Standards Forum, and Sweeny’s recent comments in an interview with the Financial Times, suggests the company supports a Metaverse that is based on open standards and interoperability. Here at themetabite.com we expect Epic Games to be a major player in Metaverse, providing the tools that developers will need to create hyper-realistic, immersive, virtual worlds.