Tim Sweeney, the co-founder of the studio behind titles such as Hitman, Gears of War, and the wildly popular Fortnite said in a Tweet today that non-fungible token (NFT) tech and the ‘metaverse’ it one day may enable are “going places,” but due to factors such as transactions costs and the “wild, speculative mess” that makes up much of crypto today, the dream of “a persistent, live digital universe” might be far off.
Sweeney made his comments in response to a blog titled “Into The Void: Where Crypto Meets The Metaverse.” Written by blockchain consulting, research and investment firm Delphi Digital partner Piers Kicks, “Into The Void” is a sprawling essay that dives into the history of digital connectivity and in-game economies, ultimately arguing that blockchain-based metaverses will not be a simple improvement over previous virtual experiences, but will instead mark the start of a new human epoch:
“In the coming decades, a new era of virtual existence will be ushered in marking our next great milestone as a networked species.”
In a short Tweet thread Sweeney praised the blog post and acknowledged that blockchain tech and NFTs are the “most plausible path” towards a fully emergent metaverse, but also indicated that these developments may be far off and that investors should be cautious with their money:
Disclaimers!— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) January 30, 2021
1) The state of the art is far from the 60Hz transactional medium needed for 100M’s of concurrent users in a real-time 3D simulation
2) Don’t read this as an endorsement of cryptocurrency investment; that’s a wild, speculative mess
But the tech is going places.
“It's immensely exciting to see recognition of the potential of these technologies from Tim, who is undoubtedly the leading pioneer of change within the game industry and beyond,” Kicks said in a statement to Cointelegraph. “[...] Almost everything out there right now is not yet ready to be mainstream consumer facing. It's not just scalability that's a bottleneck, there are still major UX frictions across the board.”
“It may well be largely speculative right now, but for those willing to engage it's a very exciting time as the market hunts for viable, scalable business and incentive models. Where mainstream perceptions of crypto are concerned, the tides do appear to be gradually changing,” he added.
Sweeney isn’t the only big-name entrepreneur to dip their toes into NFTs in recent weeks. On Monday Mark Cuban released a run of 10 limited-edition NFT animations of himself dancing. All sold out within hours, and on-chain sleuths identified two wallets associated with Cuban that contained dozens of small cryptocurrencies, as well as significant holdings in DeFi projects such as Aave and Sushiswap — all of which lent credence to Cuban’s prior statement that he likes to “try this stuff out.”
Shortly after the drop, however, Cuban said in a television interview NFT prices are “inflated” due to low interest rates, indicating that his interest in NFTs might be purely exploratory.
Both Cuban and Sweeney have good reason to question the sky-high valuations currently overtaking the space. Last weekend a rare CryptoPunk sold for 605 ETH, or over $750,000 at the time of the sale, and prominent collectors are being quoted on the evening news.
However, as is often the case in crypto development carries on apace regardless of if there’s a bubble or not, and a blockchain-enabled metaverse may be closer than even these founders and investors realize.