Microsoft, Meta, and Roblox have invested billions in metaverse components, even though the metaverse is young. These and other “constructor” companies are trying to shape the metaverse industry by establishing favorable conditions. They also define value, power, and how traditional firms might profit from metaverses. Traditional company leaders risk much. They must comprehend the competing visions and how each model fits their company’s strategy to make the proper investment decisions.
Full control model
This vision has a couple of metaverses for gaming and working. High-end hardware and proprietary applications distinguish. Microsoft created office-productivity AR tools for its Mesh platform, and AR/VR hardware and software firm Magic Leap created a surgeon-planning app.
Quality and personalized experiences will drive metaverse adoption, and the high degree of investment necessary will allow constructors to set pricing across all metaverse layers, with revenue models similar to Microsoft’s SaaS offer of Office.
This vision uses a few multipurpose metaverses. Hardware is proprietary, but the content is outsourced to an open environment. Meta, for instance, relies on individuals and companies to create immersive content and provides the infrastructure. Meta believes its unique glasses and network effects will establish a natural monopoly.
These constructors will wish to use attention economies business models like ad-based models and capture platform transaction revenues. Meta plans to take a percentage of all metaverse transactions and may patent metaverse advertising.
Content control model
Constructors control the platform and content but use providers for hardware. This vision is a monetized gaming industry expansion with selected content and experience providers and blockchain-based business models. If this vision scales, multiple metaverses will coexist and constructors must become competitive content suppliers.
Axie Infinity, Epic Games, Sorare, and The Sandbox are creating unique metaverses for virtual enjoyment. These players do not use VR or a strong content ecosystem to differentiate themselves. They are directly creating (often in cooperation) metaverse experiences and customizing the underlying technologies to reach more people.
Platform control model
This vision has multiple interwoven metaverses. Software is the only proprietary access point, thus constructors must build communities and soft barriers to retain users. Constructors must collect revenue through transaction fees, ad-based models, or digital asset valorization.
Decentraland and Roblox use blockchain and screen-based hardware. Platform managers, don’t oversee content development.
Traditional organizations must understand how each vision matches their assets and positioning. Specialized and high-end metaverses in a closed ecosystem will benefit B2B leaders with the IT talent to co-construct premium solutions (the complete control model). John Deere, for example, could join with Magic Leap or Microsoft to extend its AR software and co-develop industrial equipment use cases.
B2C enterprises with strong brands and sector positioning can bargain with constructors of more accessible metaverses that use external providers. High-end immersive tools will help some design their own experiences (infrastructure control model). For instance, Printemps established a mini-metaverse with a 3D reproduction of their main store where consumers may shop and view NFT art. Metaverses like Meta Horizon could help the brand grow this experience.
Other B2C enterprises with strong brands and positioning could profit from partnership-created off-the-shelf experiences (content control model). Marvel’s multiyear Fortnite deal promotes its flicks. It creates Marvel-themed characters, skins, digital places, and full games.
Companies that can quickly pivot and adapt to changing client needs or wish to maintain content control could work with Roblox (platform control model). These platforms have low entry barriers, limited content, screen-based presentation, and decentralized economies.
It is unclear if multiple metaverse visions will coexist. Leaders must regularly watch technological maturation, legislation, and adoption rates to evaluate if a vision has adequate momentum. The time to prepare is now. Leading companies create metaverse value.
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