CARY – More news has come out about the new partnership between Epic Games and WPP, the world’s largest advertising company, as the gaming and advanced technology company continues its deepening dive into building a metaverse.
WPP announced its new alliance with Epic last Thursday. Cary-based Epic will provide a new ‘metaverse curriculum’ with a focus on 3D development and virtual production. It’s the latest move by Epic into metaverse development, including the big news about its partnership from LEGO.
The program will provide training for thousands of WPP creatives and executives. According to emarketer.com, the program will include multiple tracks that are specific to certain roles, like executives, creatives, and media specialists.
The training will focus, “on how to create custom brand experiences in Fortnite, and how to use Unreal Engine for real-time 3D creation and virtual production” according to a statement from WPP.
“The collaboration between Epic, WPP, its clients and the creator community will accelerate the building of diverse social entertainment experiences that players across the world will love,” said Matthew Henick, VP of metaverse development at Epic Games, in the statement. “This partnership with WPP bolsters our mission to educate more trailblazing brands and creators on how Epic’s tools can be used to bring their metaverse visions to life.”
WPP and the Metaverse
Today, 74 percent of global consumers have heard the term “metaverse” as of March 2022, up from just 32 percent in July of 2021, according to survey data shared in a new report from Wunderman Thompson Intelligence. (Wunderman Thompson is owned by WPP.)
But the report also shows that there is a lack of clarity around what the metaverse is. Only 15 percent of those surveyed said they could explain the metaverse to someone else.
Earlier this year, WPP launched The Metaverse Foundry, a “metaverse army” powered by 700+ artists and technologists to execute metaverse brand experiences for WPP’s global client base. WPP launched The Metaverse Foundry through Hogarth, a content production company owned by WPP. Around that time, WPP executives remarked on the need to help marketing executives understand the opportunities within the metaverse.
The new partnership between Epic and WPP could help to accelerate the growth of marketing and entertainment experiences within gaming platforms, 3D marketplaces, and the Metaverse.
Nilufar Fowler, executive vice-president of strategic partnerships at WPP, said in the statement: “Epic’s technology is world-class and we are delighted to partner with it to raise the bar for social experiences in virtual worlds on behalf of our clients.
Partnership with SuperAwesome focuses on youth internet safety
The partnership also includes a collaboration with Epic-owned SuperAwesome, a London-based company focused on kid-safe digital technology and privacy laws, to bolster WPP’s understanding of online child safety and privacy.
“Kids’ opinions are increasingly important in the family and for society,” Dylan Collins, CEO of SuperAwesome, said in the statement. “Retail, personal care, entertainment and brands in many other verticals understand the influence youth have on their businesses, but have been struggling to understand how to engage responsibly and compliantly.”
According to research from PwC, which was commissioned by SuperAwesome, more than 40% of total new internet users globally are children, and children represent the fastest-growing segment of the online audience.
“It’s a business imperative to evolve how we interact with and support the under-16 audiences, especially as their digital consumption patterns will be forever changed by their COVID-19 experiences,” said Collins in the statement. “We are proud to be working with WPP and their clients to proactively lead best practices for kid-safe digital engagement everywhere.”
Epic also named in NASA partnership
NASA is developing the “Mars XR Operations Support System” VR environment using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. Participants in the MarsXR challenge will get first access to the VR environment.
Through the challenge, participants will be tasked with astronaut challenges within the VR environment, mirroring the kinds of tasks that humans would need to do in an early expedition to Mars.
Busy month for Epic
There’s been nonstop news from Epic Games in the last few weeks. The Cary-based interactive entertainment company announced a $2 billion raise just last month.
Recently, the company shared news about a $100k federal grant match for a new apprenticeship program.
These recent announcements, along with the WPP partnership and NASA partnership, are examples of Unreal Engine development, and how 3D and metaverse experiences, have real-world opportunities outside of gaming.
And not to be forgotten is Epic’s deal with LEGO.