Epic says them open to blockchain

Bob Metcalfe, the inventor of modern networking, predicted that the value of a network — or the network effect — goes up based on the number of users on it.

The modern metaverse

Above: Epic Games shows off intricate details amid shadowy lighting.

Sweeney said he started thinking about the metaverse more seriously in 2017, after Fortnite succeeded. He said it became apparent that all of the science fiction writers were talking about the same thing, even though it had some crazy ideas attached to it.

“We realized that you don’t need this crazy technology to do this,” he said. “We have everything we need right now. And the limiting factor on becoming reality is not much more than that.

Epic tells The Verge that it’s “open to games that support cryptocurrency or blockchain-based assets” on its game store, unlike its competitor Valve which has banned games that feature blockchain technology or NFTs from Steam. When we asked about allowing games that featured NFTs, Epic told us there’d be some limitations, but that it’s willing to work with “early developers” in the “new field.”

Epic says that the games would have to comply with financial laws, make it clear how the blockchain is used, and have appropriate age ratings. It also says that developers won’t be able to use Epic’s payment service to accept crypto; they would have to use their own payment systems instead.

Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney has said that the company isn’t interested in touching NFTs, but that statement now appears to only apply to its own games.

Epic says them open to blockchain

Firms are built on contracts, from incorporation to buyer-supplier relationships to employee relations. If contracts are automated, then what will happen to traditional firm structures, processes, and intermediaries like lawyers and accountants? And what about managers? Their roles would all radically change. Before we get too excited here, though, let’s remember that we are decades away from the widespread adoption of smart contracts.

They cannot be effective, for instance, without institutional buy-in. A tremendous degree of coordination and clarity on how smart contracts are designed, verified, implemented, and enforced will be required. We believe the institutions responsible for those daunting tasks will take a long time to evolve.

In BriefThe Hype

We’ve all heard that blockchain will revolutionize business, but it’s going to take a lot longer than many people claim.

The Reason

Like TCP/IP (on which the internet was built), blockchain is a foundational technology that will require broad coordination. The level of complexity—technological, regulatory, and social—will be unprecedented.

The Truth

The adoption of TCP/IP suggests blockchain will follow a fairly predictable path. While the journey will take years, it’s not too early for businesses to start planning.

Contracts, transactions, and the recordsof them are among the defining structures in our economic, legal, and political systems.
They protect assets and set organizational boundaries. They establish and verify identities and chronicle events. They govern interactions among nations, organizations, communities, and individuals.

And it’s great to choose service providers they choose to work with, without being forced to accept a massive bundle of services in order to reach the customer base. We want each component of the system to stand on its own merits and not use dominance or significant market power in any space to force adoption.”

Epic owns Fortnite and the Unreal Engine, which anyone can licensed. You can use that engine to create anything you want, and Epic has zero say in what you can build.

“We need to migrate from closed economies like Fortnite and Minecraft and Roblox and tens of thousands of other games to the shared world,” he said.
“We make a simpler industry by having industry standards, and also laws to ensure that their practices like malware are kept in check. But we’re going to need to make this big move and it’s not going to be a single step right.

That’s more fun than just sitting on a couch and talking.

“In a game environment, you can constantly go back and forth between the real world stuff and what’s happening in-game and it’s constantly engaging and constantly messing up the conversation,” he said. “I think that’s a key ingredient. And I think this mechanic is essential. It’s been mechanically proven out in dozens of different genres of games. Every genre that we know is going to be represented.”

I noted that Fortnite has added concerts and brands, and so I wonder if Fortnite will evolve into its own metaverse.

Sweeney said, “I think I think there will be a linear evolution.
It’s not going to be a massive sudden disruption. It’s going to be a meeting place for individuals and creators of all sizes, including brands. Every company will be there at some point.

They guide managerial and social action. And yet these critical tools and the bureaucracies formed to manage them have not kept up with the economy’s digital transformation. They’re like a rush-hour gridlock trapping a Formula 1 race car. In a digital world, the way we regulate and maintain administrative control has to change.

Blockchain promises to solve this problem. The technology at the heart of bitcoin and other virtual currencies, blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. The ledger itself can also be programmed to trigger transactions automatically. (See the sidebar “How Blockchain Works.”)

How Blockchain Works

Here are five basic principles underlying the technology.

Epic tells The Verge that it will clarify the rules as it works with developers to understand how they plan to use blockchain tech in their games. Sweeney also tweeted some additional thoughts after we published this story: he says Epic welcomes “innovation in the areas of technology and finance,” and suggests that blockchain isn’t inherently good or bad.

As a technology, the blockchain is just a distributed transactional database with a decentralized business model that incentivize investment in hardware to expand the database’s capacity. This has utility whether or not a particular use of it succeeds or fails.

— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 15, 2021

None of this means that developers spurned by Steam can rush out and throw their game up on the Epic Game Store.

Many times this has annoyed players to no end, but it has worked in Epic’s favor, and in this case the games are excluded from Steam by default. With the upcoming addition of Epic Games Store Achievements, it would seem Epic is acquiring more feathers for its storefront’s cap.

That said, Epic has chosen to tread carefully when it comes to NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Both are still relatively unknown factors, and Epic doesn’t want backlash if players wind up buying into something that ends up biting them later for whatever reason. NFTs have drawn controversy in the past within the videogame sphere and are still somewhat the wild west of the digital space.

As such, Epic will examine games using them and cryptocurrencies on a case by case basis, determining carefully which ones are allowed onto the storefront.

Every organization keeps its own records, and they’re private. Many organizations have no master ledger of all their activities; instead records are distributed across internal units and functions. The problem is, reconciling transactions across individual and private ledgers takes a lot of time and is prone to error.

For example, a typical stock transaction can be executed within microseconds, often without human intervention.

However, the settlement—the ownership transfer of the stock—can take as long as a week. That’s because the parties have no access to each other’s ledgers and can’t automatically verify that the assets are in fact owned and can be transferred.

Irreversibility of Records

Once a transaction is entered in the database and the accounts are updated, the records cannot be altered, because they’re linked to every transaction record that came before them (hence the term “chain”). Various computational algorithms and approaches are deployed to ensure that the recording on the database is permanent, chronologically ordered, and available to all others on the network.

5. Computational Logic

The digital nature of the ledger means that blockchain transactions can be tied to computational logic and in essence programmed.

So users can set up algorithms and rules that automatically trigger transactions between nodes.

With blockchain, we can imagine a world in which contracts are embedded in digital code and stored in transparent, shared databases, where they are protected from deletion, tampering, and revision.

The metaverse will require a new programming model as an open and live evolving platform, where you go from one world to another and the code all interacts, he said. That requires an open world programming model that doesn’t exist, Sweeney said.

“We need something that’s truly scaled to robust interactions with millions,” he said. “That’s one thing where we need to do some more work in graphics because even though we can be genuinely photorealistic digital teams now, we’re still pretty far short of being able to create completely convincing humans that you can’t distinguish from real humans.”

VR and blockchain

Above: FundamentalVR trains surgeons with virtual reality.

As for virtual reality, Sweeney said it is an important step forward, but it isn’t a fit for all experiences. If you turn too fast in a VR world, you can get motion sickness.

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