Epic seems to be courting a specific niche market in the wake of Steam banning blockchain games that allow the exchange of cryptocurrency from the platform.
Epic’s Tim Sweeney took a break from lambasting Apple on Twitter to comment on the situation, and had positive words to say about the blockchain in general, which he doesn’t believe is the issue Steam thinks it is:
However, there’s a difference between the blockchain as a concept, and something that uses the blockchain like NFTs, something Sweeney has a clear, opposite position about. In short, he thinks the market is too overly infected with scams:
The first thing your mind might leap to, as mine did, when you hear Epic potentially embracing blockchain gaming is something like say, Fortnite selling a unique character not as a widely purchasable skin, but as an NFT, a digital object with intrinsic, singular value. But Sweeney does not seem open to that, and I would not expect that to change any time soon, even if Epic isn’t banning blockchain-based stuff in the way Steam is.
It’s an interesting collision of two different visions of the Metaverse, which could of course merge to become one vision someday. Among the blockchain, crypto, NFT crowd, they constantly don themselves “the foundation of the Metaverse” or some other similarly grandiose term, while the other picture of the Metaverse doesn’t necessarily have to do with the blockchain at all, but rather just existing as a massive, shared digital world where you can do things like attend a virtual Ariana Grande concert while dressed as Batman, which is the Fortnite side of things. Companies like Epic or Roblox seem closer to the traditionally sci-fi vision of the Metaverse than what we see with crypto/blockchain stuff. Meanwhile, Facebook is in its own little corner, lost in VR ambitions.
In any case, it’s going to be interesting to see this market develop or…not develop. There is a contingent of people who believe that blockchain games/NFT offerings are the next big thing in gaming. And then there are those who are starting to see this crowd as…a bit cultish, with their 16-bit $20,000 NFT avatars and no significant, concrete offerings in the gaming space yet. But it’s hard to predict the future of all this, and it’s interesting to see Sweeney’s split reaction here as one of the current gatekeepers of the Metaverse and a significant digital playground in the form of Fortnite and the Epic ecosystem.