Fortnite Creative 2.0 Might Change Everything
It is closest thing we've seen to a metaverse, and it arrives Wednesday.
On Wednesday, March 22, 2023, Fortnite’s parent company Epic Games will launch Unreal Editor For Fortnite (known as UEFN) after a brief delay. Often called “Fortnite Creative 2.0,” UEFN will give complete access to Unreal Engine 5, the most popular and cutting edge video game engine in the world, to anyone who wants to create their own worlds and games inside the Fortnite application. Epic Games is the creator of both the Unreal Engine and Fortnite.
This is…a huge deal. It really can’t be overstated how big this is with regard to not only the video game world, but also to the future of the internet. You’re probably wondering why. I’m going to do my best to tell you, but…there’s a lot, and I probably won’t adequately cover it all.
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First, We Have to Look at Roblox
Roblox is a video game that has been around in some form for almost 20 years, which is wild to think about. I play a lot of video games, and I’ve never touched Roblox. Mostly because it peaked when I was out of its target demographic. But also because it looks like this:
I never really understood the appeal of Roblox, especially because it looks like a really bad knock-off LEGO game. I wondered why anyone would play Roblox when Minecraft exists and is much better in the sandbox genre.
But then I learned: what makes Roblox so popular isn’t the “base game” if you will. What makes Roblox so popular is that it is a platform on which anyone can build any game, and even earn some decent money through doing so!
Roblox’s developers created a new coding language that is a derivative of another coding language, allowing users to create their own Roblox worlds and items, which they can sell for real money. Here’s how the money breaks down:
The Robux that developers/players earn can be turned into real money upon cash out.
The millions of Roblox worlds are interconnected. You can take your avatar from a recreation of Squid Game to a concert to a virtual coffee shop and back to your home world. It is a true “third place” for about 56 million active players (as of the end of 2022), and most of them are likely young children unlike other games that have older player bases (like Fortnite).
Roblox is publicly traded on the stock exchange and is currently valued around $26 billion, and it has probably been about the closest thing to a “metaverse” we have seen in real life so far. Even despite its primitive appearance, it has all of the key ingredients for a metaverse.
Fortnite and the Metaverse
Consider this: if Roblox can attract about 56 million active users, have tens of thousands of active developers making millions of worlds and assets, and be valued at $26 billion dollars by looking like this…
…imagine what Fortnite will be able to do when it makes the most popular, powerful video game engine in the world available for developers to create worlds and games and items within Fortnite, a game that looks like this:
…also Epic Games will be giving users the ability to upload custom sounds, songs, and voice lines so that created characters can be voiced by voice actors. Wild.
Roblox has about 56 million active users. Fortnite has about 80 million active users. And tomorrow, Epic Games is going to make the most powerful video game engine in the world available for anyone to use in their creation of their own worlds and assets and games within the interconnected world of Fortnite. Also, like Roblox created its own coding language, Epic Games has created its own coding language for UEFN called “Verse,” which will unlock limitless possibilities for creativity (and profit).
It is very likely that some of the most popular video games in the world that are created in the next decade may actually exist within the Fortnite universe. And that’s just the thing: this is the first big step for Fortnite and Epic Games toward becoming a metaverse company.
All of the content created within the Fortnite universe will be interconnected worlds, just like in Roblox. And it will all be happening within a gaming platform that is already almost twice as popular and exponentially more culturally relevant than Roblox. Some companies that are pursuing their stakes in the metaverse are emphasizing hardware over software (see: Meta). Companies like Roblox and Epic, however, are doing the opposite by emphasizing software over hardware.
I tend to think software-over-hardware approach makes more sense because it would be better to create a metaverse that’s actually fun/interesting and that’s accessible to anyone with a video game console or computer (which are common), rather than force people to buy a totally separate, expensive device that only allows for lame mini-game-like experiences like with Meta’s Quest platform.
Roblox has been in the early metaverse space for a while. But I expect Fortnite Creative 2.0 to blow Roblox out of the water in terms of the quality of experiences and assets that developers create. It won’t be hard—the tools Epic Games is giving developers are just so much better.
But the Metaverse Is Still Pretty Far Away
I saw this graph the other day and it made me literally LOL:
Interest in the metaverse has plummeted from its 2021-2022 mountaintop, and the tech flavor-of-the-year has shifted to generative AI in the form of applications like ChatGPT, etc. Understandable!
Whatever image comes to your mind when you think of “the metaverse” likely involves some kind of flying cars in either the physical or virtual world (or both). And it also likely involves a sort of full-body virtual reality experience in which one can run a virtual landscaping company mowing the grass of people’s virtual houses and actually cash out real money in the real world to buy a burrito for dinner when its time to log out of the virtual reality we inhabit.
What Epic Games releases tomorrow will be the biggest step toward a Ready Player One world that I have ever seen. Roblox has very much been a pioneer of metaverse mechanics in popular culture, but Fortnite is on a whole different level of cultural prominence and popularity. A popular tech writer I read often asks of new technology, “Does this pass the parent test? Meaning: can my parents use this thing right now?” Because if parents of 30-year-olds can grab a new technology and use it today, it is pervasive. There is no metaverse that my parents would use right now, but this is movement in that direction.
We are still probably a decade or more away from a sort of true “metaverse” that a majority of people regardless of age are accessing on a daily basis, but this is a big development toward that end, I guess is what I’m trying to say.
Fortnite has been a third space for millions of people for a long time, even as it tries to regain the peak popularity it saw a few years ago. And when it unleashes Fortnite Creative 2.0 tomorrow video games and the internet will take a leap toward the metaverse in a way no overpriced headset from Facebook ever could.
In the video below, one of the most popular Fortnite creators in the world, SypherPK, explains why this is a big deal (while playing a game of Fortnite). Sypher’s new Oni Studios will certainly be creating tons of assets for the new marketplace in Fortnite Creative 2.0, and I think his team could dominate the space moving forward.
If you want to jump around a boring, technical video that demonstrates how one would actually create worlds in Fortnite, click here.
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About 35% of Fortnite’s player base is between the ages of 25–44. That is pretty old for video games! Especially one as new and as popular as Fortnite.