Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Beware, Minecraft And Roblox: LEGO And Epic Are Making A Metaverse

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LEGO x Epic

Epic

It’s been a busy week for Epic Games with the launch of Unreal Engine 5, but they’re not done making news just yet. Epic has announced a large-scale project with the LEGO brand, which just came out with a new Star Wars game this week, to “build a place for kids to play in the metaverse.” Hmm.

From the announcement:

“The LEGO Group and Epic Games today announced they are entering a long-term partnership to shape the future of the metaverse to make it safe and fun for children and families. The two companies will team up to build an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together.

The family-friendly digital experience will give kids access to tools that will empower them to become confident creators and deliver amazing play opportunities in a safe and positive space.”

The announcement ends with a bulleted list of points that read like the “rules” of the Epic/LEGO metaverse, which seem like digs at other rival, metaverses.

Protect children’s right to play by making safety and wellbeing a priority.
Safeguard children’s privacy by putting their best interests first.
Empower children and adults with tools that give them control over their digital experience.

What exactly…is all this? The best I can tell, this is Epic’s attempt to use the LEGO license to compete with the likes of Minecraft and Roblox, creativity/building-focused sandbox games that kids have flocked to over the years. Minecraft was bought by Microsoft while Roblox has gone public and become one of the largest video game companies in existence with a sky-high market cap. Epic clearly wants a piece of that pie, and they feel like partnering with an established brand like LEGO will give them a leg up in this space. I don’t think they’re wrong.

Roblox

Roblox

LEGO has been a low-key extremely successful video game staple for years now, as through all their partnerships they’ve done a great job making LEGO-based games for ages. Combining what they already know with Epic’s reach and tools, and I think that whatever this ends up being has the potential to be quite big, even if this buzzword-y announcement isn’t revealing much off the bat.

New metaverses like Facebook’s Horizon have been accused of not doing enough to project children. Roblox has been accused of exploiting kids’ creations for massive profits. It seems like Epic is taking aim at both of those issues with this new project, but how that manifests specifically remains unclear as of yet. This is absolutely something to keep an eye on, and I’m curious to see if Fortnite becomes involved in this at all, Epic’s own existing metaverse that’s obviously also hugely popular with kids. But for now, this seems entirely separate, and we’ll see what’s revealed next about it. Maybe start with a name?

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy.

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