Fortnite-developer Epic Games and Lego partner to build a metaverse aimed at kids – TechCrunch

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Fortnite-developer Epic Games announced today that it’s partnering with Lego to build a metaverse aimed at kids. The companies say they are going to shape the future of the metaverse to make it safe and fun for children, while building an immersive digital experience for kids to play in.

While the companies didn’t go into detail about their plans for this virtual world, they outlined three principles that they say will ensure the digital spaces they develop are safe. The two will work together to make children’s safety and wellbeing a priority, to safeguard children’s privacy, and to equip children and adults with tools that give them control over their digital experience.

“The LEGO Group has captivated the imagination of children and adults through creative play for nearly a century, and we are excited to come together to build a space in the metaverse that’s fun, entertaining, and made for kids and families,” Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney said in a press release.

Sweeney has previously said he sees the metaverse as a kind of online playground where users could play games, such as Fortnite, and watch movies on Netflix together.

In today’s announcement, Sweeney said the digital experience will be family-friendly and empower children to become confident creators. He noted that two companies will combine their experience to ensure that this next iteration of the internet is designed with the wellbeing of kids in mind. There’s no word on what exactly the virtual world would look like or when the two companies plan to launch it.

“Kids enjoy playing in digital and physical worlds and move seamlessly between the two,” Lego CEO Niels B Christiansen said in the press release. “We believe there is huge potential for them to develop life-long skills such as creativity, collaboration and communication through digital experiences. But we have a responsibility to make them safe, inspiring and beneficial for all.”

There’s no clear definition of the “metaverse” just yet, mainly because it doesn’t necessarily exist, but it’s largely seen as a network of virtual spaces that will open up new ways for people to connect online. The idea of the metaverse is already proving to be unsafe for children, which will force Epic and Lego to create extensive safeguards around their planned virtual world.

Epic and Lego join numerous other efforts from companies looking to build their own versions of a metaverse.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is largely focused on building the metaverse and even changed its corporate branding to outline its plans for the future. Last September, the company announced a $50 million fund dedicated toward investment in research to ensure the metaverse is built responsibly. Since then, the company has doubled down on its plans for the metaverse, and even cancelled its F8 developer conference yesterday, saying it wants to focus its efforts on building the metaverse.

Pokémon Go creator Niantic has also detailed its plans to build what it calls the “real-world metaverse.” Last November, the company raised $300 million at a $3 billion valuation and said it would use the money to a create a real-world metaverse that will use technology to bring people closer to the outside world.

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