Fortnite and Unreal Engine developer Epic Games is teaming up with The Lego Group to develop a family-friendly and kid-safe metaverse, the companies announced Thursday. Their “family-friendly digital experience” promises powerful creative tools and “amazing play opportunities in a safe and positive space,” according to a joint announcement from the companies.
Epic and Lego’s plans for the metaverse sound as ambitious as they are currently vague; the companies say they plan to build “an immersive, creatively inspiring and engaging digital experience for kids of all ages to enjoy together” as part of their long-term partnership.
But one aspect of the announcement is crystal clear: This new metaverse is designed with children’s safety in mind first and foremost. The companies say they have agreed to three principles that drive the project:
- 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.
While the project does not have any specifically announced products or timeline for release, it’s easy to see how Epic and Lego’s past projects — and those of likely competitors Roblox and Minecraft — will inform the new kid-friendly metaverse. Epic Games has evolved Fortnite from a me-too battle royale shooter into something far more, well, meta. Fortnite is now home to concerts starring the likes of Ariana Grande, Travis Scott, and Marshmello, movie events, a yearslong metanarrative, and a creative sandbox mode where players can build their own spaces with their own game rules.
The Lego Group has similarly built its own creative sandbox games, including 2017’s Lego Worlds, a procedurally generated and player-created space where Lego brick enthusiasts can customize game worlds to their will.
Epic and Lego have one other thing in common: licenses. Fortnite and Lego have deals with some of the world’s biggest brands and most recognizable pop culture characters, including Marvel and DC superheroes and Star Wars.