It may seem odd to discuss a free-to-play video game in the same digital context as something designed to completely reimagine how people interact online. But as Nick Statt of Protocol correctly notes, “Fortnite” has achieved goals that Meta is far from. As Statt points out, “Fortnite” is genuinely being used by people, and they enjoy it. That would put Meta’s metaverse version of the game two up. It was never said that “Fortnite” was a revolution. The battle royale smash, as IGN has noted, was an eleventh-hour creative turn on a floundering team-based shooter that crashed sideways into worldwide success. Now, it’s a dynamic online community where blasting and construction go hand in hand.
The building component of “Fortnite” offers the metaverse a path ahead. Since decades, there have been places for worldwide co-op innovation; nevertheless, they have only ever been presented as games. ‘Minecraft’ trumped ‘Fortnite’ by a good six years as the preferred venue for no-pressure collaboration and limitless play. In “Roblox” and, to some extent, in Sony’s “Dreams” with its so-called Dreamiverse, similar communities have emerged.
That’s just the new blood, though. Older nerds may remember swarming to virtual environments that had even worse graphics than Meta’s sticky Styrofoam appearance. The venerable “Second Life,” which was introduced in the gloomy year of 2003, is still standing among its prettier offspring. MMOs like “World of Warcraft” and “EVE Online” are also the sites of enormous creative and team undertakings. There are still those who enjoy browser-based oddities like “Kingdom of Loathing.” MUDs and MUCKs. is still populated by ASCII veterans. The list continues. Believe it or not, every example of virtualization we see here, from the most recent Fortnite update to text-based MUDs from the 1990s, shares a trait that Meta has thus far overlooked.