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The author of Ready Player One is making a doomed web3 Fortnite clone

Open is coming in 2024, maybe, but I get to make fun of it now

Parzival looks at a CRT screen saying ARE YOU READY? in a screen from the teaser for Open
Image credit: Readyverse

In a real "no thanks, I hate it" move that seems to be aimed at making me, specifically, have some kind of coronary event, Walker Labs and Readyverse studios have announced a new battle royale game, designed with Ernest "I Tip My Hat To You, Sir!" Cline. Cline, who you will remember is the writer of Ready Player One, is apparently one of the co-founders of Readyverse, and I'm sad to see he's still in search of a second idea. Open (that's the name of the game, but it's in all caps in their press assets) is an "immersive multiverse filled with nostalgia-infused biomes featuring characters and cultural legends across iconic franchises", coming to early access this year. Also it somehow involves web3.

You will already have identified that the future of Open depends largely on how many "iconic franchises" sign up to have their shit wrecked in a less successful Fortnite. A Fornite that will, because it is aligned with web3, be populated by the sort of people who drive away all other consumers by being some of the most credulous and annoying people on Earth. Currently the list of confirmed IP is Reebok, the DeLorean car, and Ready Player One (nothing else Warner Bros. own is confirmed, which I find extremely funny, altough I suppose it's possible that the Ready Player One IP contains other IP nesting inside it, like an Alien chest-burster).

This may be why the teaser for the game has basically nothing in it except an Atari joystick and a character who looks like that guy from Cline's book. You can sign up to the waitlist for Open now to get in on the ground floor of the early access for a multi-mode Fortnite-alike that has less licensed skins, but does have branded trainers.

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I wasn't going to write about Open. My limitless dislike for Ernest Cline's work - and I hope you're reading this, man - is well documented but is not in itself newsworthy, and this game is obviously going to be the sort of nag that gets three yards from the starting gate and then quietly falls over. But I think it's instructive to think about why it's in the race at all.

The whole press release uses this trademark exciting vagueness promising the world. No specific modes are named for Open, just "game-show styled, multi-round collaborative and competitive game modes". Open is planned to be the flagship experience of the Readyverse, described as "a dynamic interactive platform of interconnected digital experiences", which is another 'make Fetch happen' attempt to do a metaverse. Readyverse cite what they call a "recent report from Citi" as evidence that the metaverse market has the potential to hit $13 trillion in value by 2030. Because I'm not an excitable tech bro investor, I noted that report is from March 2022 and toplines NFTs as a reason for a spike in interest in the metaverse - and I also know all ur apes crashed in September last year.

Why will people like this never stop trying to make the metaverse even though it is a silly idea inaccessible to most people? Even though they aren't actually promising anything concrete, just throwing around hype? When Readyverse don't even seem to know how web3 will be integrated into the game they just announced? Why is this funded when other studios are culling devs left and right? I argue it is because a) people are greedy to such an extent that, even if you're risk averse, something that blithely promises this much potential money makes it seem like a risk to not get involved; and b) as Dan Olson points out, for proponents the metaverse cannot fail, you can only fail to make the metaverse.

Incidentally, the metaverse in Cline's book exists because we destroyed the planet and real life is untenable, so I don't know why he's so excited about making it now, especially if it depends on web3 technology that is famously bad for the environment, Ernest. Keep working on that new idea, champ.

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