In an interview with the Gaming Business Review, an online site ran by M2 Publishing, Tim Sweeney detailed recent developments in Epic Games, as well as his visions of the future.
The interview obviously took place during Game Developer’s Conference 2015, which is traditionally held in San Francisco, CA. We highly recommend that you head there and read the whole interview, but we could not miss out on a question that is shaping the industry right now:
GBR: How big do you see virtual reality becoming over the next five to ten years as a business?
TS: Virtual reality and Augmented Reality will literally change the world. They will be the next computing platform. There’s a market for billions of these devices because everybody who has a smartphone today will — perhaps in as much as decade from now — much prefer entertainment in a completely immersive experience that takes advantage of your entire field of view and has full body input through miniaturized cameras and other technologies. But we’re in the early days of it now. Let’s be clear, everything is in the development kit stage. It is for early adopters and what we’re seeing now is really just the Palm Pilot to the platform that will evolve into something iPhone-like in its quality.
There’s no point in denying it, after seeing billions of dollars earned by 3D movies which rely on ‘cheap tricks’ to achieve depth (try finding animated feature movies without 3D being the ‘default’ option), next step will bring us technologies such as Microsoft Hololens, production versions of Facebook-owned Oculus VR (John Carmack keynote) and second-generation Google Glass, which is developed in near-secrecy by the search giant and a practical monopoly in glasses, Italian giant Luxottica.
After operating for almost 20 years as an independent studio, Epic Games made waves across the gaming and development community when they accepted an investment from Tencent Holdings (HKG:0700) last June (2014). The Chinese powerhouse paid up $330 million for 48.4% of the company, setting the valuation just a bit below $680 million.
Tim Sweeney continued to be the CEO, while his lifelong business partner Mark Rein still continues as in his role of Vice President. Not selling themselves outright like idSoftware did with ZeniMax Media, Epic Games continues to be independent studio, consisting out of product (games) and technology development units. Their recent announcement about making Unreal Engine ‘free’ opens a path for even more ‘premium freemium’ titles which base their revenue model on microtransactions.