Power

Core wants to be the metaverse platform of choice for musicians, starting with deadmau5

The Roblox-like development platform is courting big-name creators.

An image of deadmau5’s logo.

Manticore is partnering with artist deadmau5 to promote its Roblox-like game development platform.

Image: Manticore

Game development platform Core is offering its own twist on the metaverse by pitching musicians to use its tools to build their own virtual worlds. Manticore, the company behind Core that in March raised $100 million, has its first artist onboard: Joel Zimmerman, known better as the electronic music artist deadmau5.

Zimmerman plans to launch his own virtual world on the Core platform this fall, the company announced at the Gamescom Opening Night Live event on Wednesday. The world, called Oberhasli, will feature live music performances, games and other experiences both created and curated by Zimmerman himself. A former programmer and 3D animator, Zimmerman is an avid gamer and game development enthusiast who over the years has taught himself some of the tools of the trade for use in his live productions.

The partnership is Manticore's biggest entertainment crossover to date as it gears up to compete with the likes of Epic's Fortnite, Roblox and other titles that have become both popular development platforms for young and burgeoning creators as well as lucrative destinations for large-scale virtual concerts and brand tie-ins.

Core, available for free on PC right now, is similar to Roblox in that it is both a place to play games and a toolset used to create those games and the virtual worlds they exist in. One difference, however, is that Core is built using Epic's Unreal Engine and features more realistic-looking graphics and design tools allowing for mature titles, like shooters and survival games. Manticore very much sees itself in the fast-growing metaverse business, in that it wants to be a place where people come to create and play games and interact with pop culture from the real world, but with a more adult target audience that sets it apart from the kid-focused Roblox.

The metaverse is a buzzy concept right now, but it's still loosely defined and many years away from being fully realized as the next-generation internet foretold by science fiction. Manticore, like a number of companies in the game industry, is trying to get in on the ground floor of what promises to be a paradigm shift in how people socialize, entertain themselves and spend money in the future.

Manticore's vision is of a world where game development is as easy as making a YouTube video. The idea is that as games become an even more crucial pillar of pop culture, lowering the barrier to entry for making them could result in new types of experiences with real staying power and the capacity to compete with big-budget productions from established game studios.

"The game development pipeline is extremely complex and complicated, and it requires lots of specialists and also time. The iteration cycles are very long," CEO Frederic Descamps told Protocol. With Core, Descamps says you can make a game in minutes, and in fact his co-founder Jordan Maynard, with whom Descamps worked at companies like Electronic Arts and Zynga, did just that while on Zoom during our interview. Maynard shared his screen as he explored a desert world he created from premade assets and a shooter game template that had him competing against Descamps in real time.

One inspiration for Core, Descamps said, was the immense success of the modding community that led to major hits like Counter-Strike and Playerunknown's Battlegrounds. "Many of the biggest games of the last 15 years have come out of user-generated content and modding," he said. "[These] platforms and games were made by people outside the gaming industry who are just players." Manticore wants its platform to facilitate the same kind of novel creations.

Right now, the company is focused on bringing more people to Core, especially those who are excited about the prospect of building virtual worlds. Zimmerman, who has spent much of the past decade teaching himself real-time graphics and other game development techniques for use in his live productions, was an ideal candidate.

"I dove down the rabbit hole and decided I could take a good stab at producing a real-looking thing from Unreal Engine solo," Zimmerman told Protocol in an interview over Zoom from his home in Toronto. That was a gigantic mistake, he said. "I soaked in too much, but I realized that's why it costs $200 million to make a video game."

Zimmerman says his efforts in learning how to push his stage productions, lighting and graphics to the next level gave him a newfound respect for the art of game development. That led to conversations with a number of companies over the past few years trying to build a bridge between traditional entertainment and video games. With the COVID-19 pandemic shifting many music events online, combined with the efforts of Fortnite and Epic's pioneering virtual concert series, the timing felt right, Zimmerman said, and Manticore made an appealing pitch.

"They're doing what I want to do, but they're doing it for everything," he said. "It's exciting to watch a company try to take on the world, literally, and it's a really fun synergistic partnership." Zimmerman's virtual world is launching in October with a live musical performance, the company said.

Zimmerman hopes to continue building out the experience for fans and to work together with the community of Core users to incorporate art, game ideas and other content into the virtual world. "The thing about Core is that it's going to be open to the end users or the more-savvy fans who would like to be interested in modifying the universe and making it their own," he said.

Going forward, Manticore wants to sign on more artists to use Core, hopefully in a way that involves less direct partnership. That way, if a musician or other artist wants to create their own fan hub, virtual performance or other variety of in-game world, they can do so without having to consult with anyone or hire any third-party designers or marketers to help them build and promote it.

"Ideally, we get out of the equation altogether. The idea is that other creators and other influencers, musicians and artists can come and set up shop and build their worlds and they can also monetize from it," said Patrick Buechner, Manticore's chief marketing officer and a former Amazon Games and EA executive. "Instead of it being a place where a company like Manticore has to give millions of dollars for artists to show up and play an event, we're building an economy they can take part in and all they do is just opt into it."

Manticore hopes Zimmerman's Oberhasli is the first of many artist collaborations and that it inspires people to start bringing more of the real world into Core, to help realize the metaverse vision. "Anyone with no prior knowledge making games can make something on Core," Maynard said. "We want to do for making video games what YouTube and more recently TikTok has done for producing videos."

Workplace

You need a healthy ‘debate culture’

From their first day, employees at Appian are encouraged to disagree with anyone at the company — including the CEO. Here’s how it works.

Appian co-founder and CEO Matt Calkins wants his employees to disagree with him.

Photo: Appian

Matt Calkins often hears that he’s polite, even deferential. But as CEO of Appian, he tells employees to challenge each other — especially their bosses — early and often.

“I love arguments. I love ideas clashing,” Calkins said. “I regard it as a personal compliment when someone respectfully dissents.”

Keep Reading Show less
Allison Levitsky
Allison Levitsky is a reporter at Protocol covering workplace issues in tech. She previously covered big tech companies and the tech workforce for the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Allison grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Some of the most astounding tech-enabled advances of the next decade, from cutting-edge medical research to urban traffic control and factory floor optimization, will be enabled by a device often smaller than a thumbnail: the memory chip.

While vast amounts of data are created, stored and processed every moment — by some estimates, 2.5 quintillion bytes daily — the insights in that code are unlocked by the memory chips that hold it and transfer it. “Memory will propel the next 10 years into the most transformative years in human history,” said Sanjay Mehrotra, president and CEO of Micron Technology.

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.

Gopuff says it will make it through the fast-delivery slump

Maria Renz on her new role, the state of fast delivery and Gopuff’s goals for the coming year.

Gopuff has raised $4 billion at a $15 billion valuation.

Photo: Gopuff

The fast-delivery boom sent startups soaring during the pandemic, only for them to come crashing down in recent months. But Maria Renz said Gopuff is prepared to get through the slump.

“Gopuff is really well-positioned to weather through those challenges that we expect in the next year or so,” Renz told Protocol. “We're first party, we control elements of our mix, like price, very directly. And again, we have nine years of experience.”

Keep Reading Show less
Sarah Roach

Sarah (Sarahroach_) writes for Source Code at Protocol. She's a recent graduate of The George Washington University, where she studied journalism and criminal justice. She served for two years as editor-in-chief of GW's independent newspaper, The GW Hatchet. Sarah is based in New York, and can be reached at sroach@protocol.com

Enterprise

AT&T CTO: Challenges of the cloud transition are interpersonal

Jeremy Legg sat down with Protocol to discuss the race to 5G, the challenges of the cloud transition and nabbing tech talent.

AT&T CTO Jeremy Legg spoke with Protocol about the company's cloud transition and more.

Photo: AT&T

Jeremy Legg is two months into his role as CTO of AT&T, and he has been tasked with a big mandate: transforming the company into a software-driven business, with 5G and fiber as core growth areas.

This isn’t Legg’s first CTO gig, just his biggest one. He’s an entertainment biz guy who’s now at the center of the much bigger, albeit less glamorous, telecom business. Prior to joining AT&T in 2020, Legg was the CTO of WarnerMedia, where he was the technical architect behind HBO Max.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.

Workplace

How Canva uses Canva

Design tips and tricks from the ultimate Canva pros: Canva employees themselves.

Employees use Canva to build the internal weekly “Canvazine,” product vision decks, team swag and more.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Ever wondered how the companies behind your favorite tech use their own products? We’ve told you how Spotify uses Spotify, How Slack uses Slack and how Meta uses its workplace tools. We talked to Canva employees about the creative ways they use the design tool.

The thing about Canva is that it's ridiculously easy to use. Anyone, regardless of skill level, can open up the app and produce a visually appealing presentation, infographic or video. The 10-year-old company has become synonymous with DIY design, serving as the preferred Instagram infographic app for the social justice “girlies.” Still, the app has plenty of overlooked features that Canvanauts (Canva’s word for its employees) use every day.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

Latest Stories
Bulletins