pic Games just closed $1 billion in funding from new and existing investors as they continue their aggressive, unmatched warpath to dominate the Metaverse—a quasi-successor to the internet. The Metaverse, for those just getting attuned, represents the total summation of all virtual, augmented, and mixed reality worlds; this also encompasses all sites on the "traditional" internet as we know it, such as this 2D one you're consuming through your screen.
In other words, the Metaverse is the full collection of all 2D or 3D digital spaces, a creative spectrum of sites we designed to emulate reality, like an advanced, reality-based MMO. From Fortnite to AIM chatrooms, the Metaverse represents humanity's evolution to create new experiences in new spaces, in new realities.
According to Epic, the funding will go a long way towards ensuring the further growth of the company in pursuit of its core ideals. As Epic Games' CEO and name-to-know Tim Sweeney states, the $1 billion investment "will help accelerate our work around building connected social experiences in Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys, while empowering game developers and creators with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services and the Epic Games Store."
One of the round's larger investors includes Sony Group Corporation, which enjoys a cordial relationship with Epic games owed largely to shared goals of advancing the state of the art in technology, entertainment, and socially-connected online services. Sony, a returning investor, contributed $200M to the funding pool as a strategic investment. Other notable investors include Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, Baillie Gifford, GIC, and Appaloosa.
The funding may have introduced new stakeholders, however, the existing structure has been maintained as Tim Sweeney retains the controlling share of the company he founded in 1991. “We are grateful to our new and existing investors who support our vision for Epic and the Metaverse," says Tim.
While $1 billion in working capital is fundamental for the future of the Metaverse as led by Epic Games, Rome was not, of course, built in a day... the capital raise announcement comes in tandem with a smaller, yet uniquely massive event on the highway to the Metaverse: MetaHumans Creator is officially live for early access (a tool I analyzed and explained in depth).
Finally, developers, artists, and storytellers have a new, advanced tool to play with as we advance the content experiences that make up today's Metaverse.
Vladmir Mastilovic, Vice President of Digital Humans Technology at Epic Games, previously shared with me that certain applications for digital humans are "immediate & obvious, and others speculative & futuristic, but one thing is certain: digital humans will be one of the fundamental building blocks of many technologies in the future."
While Vlad may be referring to immediate applications of digital humans, such as virtual celebrities or virtual spokespersons, the technologies digital humans may underpin will span both 2D and 3D realms. On today's 2D sites, digital humans will thrive as chat avatars, virtual influencers, and the subject of ad content, while in the 3D realms of tomorrow, these digital humans will represent humans themselves as new-age transmedia social profiles, serving as a vehicle through which we interface with the Metaverse, and each other.
“The initial spark for the MetaHuman idea was just the fascination for digital characters in CG. To us, digital humans are something magical, even, and infinitely complicated...what used to take months, now takes minutes, and people don’t even have to think about all the technical steps they normally would need to take,” says Vlad in the latest announcement.
"We're going after three really hard problems, and we're not compromising on any of those: outright quality...making sure that anyone can use this tool...and all of that has to work with that fidelity with rigged and ready to animate in-engine in realtime," says Paul Doyle, MetaHuman's Director of Product Management at Epic Games.
With continued, strong, proven growth, Epic Games emerges as an unlikely formidable competitor against traditional social networks and app ecosystems, largely owing to the sheer relevance and advancement geared by its Unreal Engine platform, the one underpinning the creation of emerging social networks like Fortnite and app marketplaces like the Epic Games Store.
Social networks such as Snapchat, Twitter, and TikTok need to shift their attention to 3D-optimized experiences in a bid to stay relevant following the ongoing transition, else they risk shelving themselves as the 2D social networks of the past. Non-innovating networks will become regurgitation machines of original moments first experienced on newer, more relevant networks... the ghoulish writing on the wall for any given failing social network. Original Content is king, aside from platforms where aggregation is the total purpose (e.g. Reddit).
Social companies who fail to tap into 3D, social experiences will get left behind before they know it, fulfilling their maximum potential as widgets within more immersive, 3D realms. Social networks provide commentary on reality, and so we value social networks highly. What, then, will we value when the underpinning reality is replaced by metaversical experiences? Today's social networks are on track to become the after-thought rather than the destination.
Kenichiro Yoshida, the current Chairman, President and CEO of Sony Group Corporation had this to say about the investment: “Epic continues to deliver revolutionary experiences through their array of cutting edge technologies that support creators in gaming and across the digital entertainment industry. We are excited to strengthen our collaboration to bring new entertainment experiences to people around the world. I strongly believe that this aligns with our purpose to fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology.”
Over the years, Epic Games has managed to remain a household name among hardcore gamers and game enthusiasts all over the world. By seeing through a vision for the Metaverse, the next stage of social experiences on the internet, Epic Games has cemented its place as an industry leader of tomorrow's social experiences.
Epic's equity valuation is now $28.7 billion... as I've mentioned once before, it's times like these I wish Epic Games was a publicly traded entity.
Now, enjoy Tim Sweeney discussing the next decade of gaming, and how we need to adjust our thinking about games and gaming ecosystems to achieve our maximum potential: