Epic Video games, the metaverse and the consolidation of the games market

The calendar year is 2030 and I’m having my dinner when my kids (grown ups who just cannot move out because of to rampant inflation) sit across from me, dabbing and putting on a virtual reality headset that spoonfeeds them G-Fuel. I scroll via Twitter on my EyePhone, ocular implants that render the internet in entire augmented actuality, and search at my video match feed, which is now curated by a handful of huge companies that gobbled up all the smaller kinds. I study a tweet and get an achievement for logging in for the to start with time now. 

According to the tweet, Sonic is playable in Fortnite. Not a pores and skin, an entire match – the new a single. Sonic Origins. Epic Video games owns Sega in 2030, you see, along with a bunch of other large publishers and mid-degree builders. Microsoft, Sony, Embracer Team, EA and Tencent very own the rest. 

Out of morbid curiosity, I load Fortnite up – there is no console desired simply because it’s pre-set up on all TVs, ocular implants and VR sets – and action into Fortnite Plaza, a hub region where by all my mates and family are hanging out. My wife is here, even nevertheless she hates video games, for the reason that Epic has a offer with the major supermarkets in which you get a significant discounted if you get your searching inside the metaverse. She’s walking down digital Asda aisles and filling up a purchasing basket – some thing Epic mastered when it applied a browsing cart operate into the Epic Game Retail outlet in 2025. 

I hop into my Rocket League vehicle and velocity off in look for of Sonic, zooming past live live shows staffed by actual stability guards checking everyone’s tickets just before entry – it’s a put to enjoy, but also a place of work for a lot of. I shake my head and skid earlier Simply call of Duty Town, wherever folks participate in the new Warzone map. To my still left, one more player makes an attempt to initiate a race with me, but they are dressed as Pickle Rick so I deliver up the social menu and block them, eradicating them from my occasion. Up ahead there is a helpdesk which is selecting for admins to patrol Fortnite Plaza and make confident people today are enjoying item as a substitute of getting signify to each and every other. Unlimited billboards whizz overhead, promoting McDonald’s, Uber and Tesla. 

Ultimately, I reach my location. Sonic Origins, a new Sonic sport inside of Fortnite. Truly, it is fewer a game and far more like a minigame, but at minimum enjoying it earns me a Sonic backpack to dress in in Fortnite’s Battle Royale method. 

This is the foreseeable future video video game businesses want. 

The online video game marketplace is consolidating and every person is chasing the “blue ocean”, a sector technique where by levels of competition is irrelevant since the guidelines of the activity are however remaining set. Everyone would like to make the 1st metaverse, to individual the most brand names and hold the most power in excess of all the art that individuals maintain dear. It’s not just Epic Games – almost anyone would like a slice. 

Just today, Epic Games announced that it has acquired Harmonix, the developer regarded finest for Rock Band. Harmonix “will collaborate intently with Epic to establish musical journeys and gameplay for Fortnite”, in accordance to Epic’s assertion, which means we have probably found the close of rhythm games from Harmonix – it’s just a part of Fortnite now. Epic Games also owns Psyonix, creator of Rocket League, and Tonic Team, the studio guiding Slide Guys. I’m positive there are much more to appear. 

“It’s no top secret that Epic is invested in making the metaverse, and Tonic Online games shares this objective,” Epic Online games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney mentioned at the time. “As Epic will work to make this digital potential, we want fantastic innovative talent who know how to construct effective video games, written content and encounters.”

“Content and experiences” – that’s the vital section of the statement. This is the system laid bare. Epic Online games will keep gobbling up studios in get to bolster what Fortnite can do. Consolidation is the enemy of range. 

The goal is to make Fortnite all online games, all things. Presently, we’re seeing advertisements for Nike Jordans, John Wick and the NFL pop up in the recreation – we’re approaching a dystopian hellscape like a little something out of a straight to DVD Blade Runner prequel. 

It is bizarre mainly because we previously are living in the metaverse. Log onto Twitter on your cellphone and you’re in a further planet stuffed with persons you possibly really do not interact with outside of it. Twitter experienced landed persons employment, acquired them in trouble and permitted them to meet their substantial other. The internet previously impacts our lives in true, tangible strategies. Online video games’ strategy of the metaverse is just a further way to extract funds out of men and women and retain them “engaged”. 

For the earlier few a long time, “engagement” has been a critical metric for achievement for video clip recreation firms. But has it at any time been a metric that added benefits gamers? No. Not at all. 

The need to have for players to be continually engaged in their video games is what led to the generation of games as a company, fight passes and open up-earth video games the place you do the exact repetitive action 5,000 instances. It is what spawned loot bins and all other manners of toxic squander dump mechanics, all in a bid to retain us enjoying. The metaverse is just a seedy extension of that. It will signify fewer smaller sized creators creating the sorts of factors they want to make and additional large game titles and encounters that need all of your cost-free time, luring you again with consistent gatherings and confined-time specials. 

It is not even a superior thing for the developers. Certain, consolidation is aiding some battling devs remain afloat in the similar way get the job done for employ does, but do developers seriously want to get the job done on the exact same project eternally? I’d argue they do not, which will finally direct to inventive burnout and talent churn. Immediately after all, if you’re not taking pleasure in functioning in video games, why not go into the significantly extra rewarding environment of software package development? I’ve seen a glimpse of the long run, and the upcoming is grim.

Published by Kirk McKeand on behalf of GLHF.