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Epic games said today it raised $ 1 billion in a new round of funding to build that Metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels like Snow fall and Ready player one.

The company said the money will allow it to support future growth opportunities, and it values ​​Epic’s stock valuation at $ 28.7 billion.

This round includes an additional strategic investment of $ 200 million from Sony. This builds on the already close relationship between the two companies and reaffirms their goals to advance the state of the art in technology, entertainment and socially connected online services. One of the keys to the Metaverse will be creating realistic animated digital people and two of Epic’s executives – Paul Doyle and Vladimir Mastilović – will speak on the subject at our next meeting GamesBeat Summit 2021 Conference on April 28th and 29th.

Other investment partners include Appaloosa, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, GIC, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, and BlackRock, Park West, KKR, AllianceBernstein, managed funds and Accounts. Altimeter, Franklin Templeton and Luxor Capital.

Above: Tim Sweeney (right), CEO of Epic Games, speaks with Dean Takahashi at the GamesBeat Summit: Into the Metaverse

Image Credit: VentureBeat

Epic continues to have only a single class of common stock outstanding and CEO Tim Sweeney remains the company’s controlling shareholder.

“We are grateful to our new and existing investors who support our vision for Epic and the Metaverse,” Sweeney said in a statement. “Your investment will help accelerate our work building connected social experiences in Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys, as well as supporting game developers and developers with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services and the Epic Games Store.”

Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony CEO, said in a statement that Epic continues to deliver revolutionary experiences through its suite of cutting-edge technologies helping developers in games and across the digital entertainment industry. He said Sony looks forward to working together and bringing new entertainment experiences to the world.

Sweeney’s view of the metaverse

Epic Games will launch the Unreal Engine in 2021.

Above: Epic Games will launch Unreal Engine 5 in 2021.

Photo credit: Epic Games

Sweeney has been one of the biggest proponents of the Metaverse in recent years. At our GamesBeat Summit in January, he said the Metaverse should be built with open standards so that walled gardens don’t dominate the community.

I asked Sweeney what the Metaverse’s killer attraction would be. He said the killer feature is simply hanging out with your friends for great social experiences, like taking a walk in the open air. It’s more fun than just sitting on a couch and talking.

“In a game environment, you can always go back and forth between things in the real world and what’s going on in the game, and it’s always exciting and messing up the conversation,” he said. “I think that’s an important ingredient. And I think this mechanic is important. It has been mechanically proven in dozens of different game genres. Every genre we know will be represented. “

I’ve found Fortnite adding gigs and brands, so I wonder if Epic’s Blockbuster Battle Royale will develop into its own metaverse.

Sweeney said, “I think I think there will be a linear evolution. It won’t be a massive sudden disorder. It becomes a meeting place for individuals and creators of all sizes, including brands. Every company will be there at some point. If you are an automaker, your branding presence on the Metaverse will not be an advertisement for your cars. It will be a place where you can actually drive the cars around and feel the experience of them. You can use a Corvette in the game. We have the opportunity for much, much more interesting interactions. “

Sweeney said he started thinking more seriously about the Metaverse in 2017 after Fortnite was successful. He said it had become apparent that all sci-fi writers were talking about the same thing, even though there were some crazy ideas associated with it.

“We found that you don’t need this crazy technology to do this,” he said. “We now have everything we need. And the limiting factor for reality is not much more. Developers learn what elements really make great online social experiences, continuity of experience, and science fiction. “

Epic Games shows intricate details in shady lighting.

Above: Epic Games shows intricate details in shady lighting.

Photo credit: Epic Games

A fiction (like Star Trek‘s Holodeck) focused on making the metaverse photo-realistic with outstanding graphics. Epic Games has shifted its Unreal tool in this direction. But he added, “There are different themes because if you look at the leading competitors right now, none of them are photorealistic.”

Fortnite has brought brands into its universe in an art style that matches the game world, which looks more like a cartoon. In the future, these brand values ​​could be automatically adapted to the world in which they are to be used.

With the Metaverse open, every company still wants to own a few things.

“The principle here is that each creator owns their original creations and has the right to profit from them,” Sweeney said. “And it’s great to be able to choose service providers that they work with without being forced to accept a huge bundle of services in order to reach the customer base. We want every component of the system to stand on its own and not use dominance or significant market power in any area to force takeover. “

Epic owns Fortnite and the Unreal Engine, which anyone can license. You can use this engine to build anything you want and Epic has no say in what you can build.

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