Sony positions itself for the metaverse

Sony is getting itself ‘metaverse’ ready to cope with the rise of web 3.0 technologies.

A view of the Sony booth during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Files
A view of the Sony booth during the 2020 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 8, 2020. REUTERS/Steve Marcus/Files
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LONDON (Bywire News) - The metaverse is coming and Sony Group wants to play a leading role. According to many commentators, the rise of the immersive metaverse is on track to disrupt just about everything from the way we socialise to the way we play video games. That could create problems for Sony which has dominated the previous era of gaming thanks to their PlayStation Consoles. However, a world of cross-platform free to play gaming could be perceived as a threat which is why they want to move now to avoid being left behind. 

In a strategy briefing on Wednesday, Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida was bullish on its prospects. "The metaverse is at the same time a social space and live network space where games, music, movies and anime intersect."

The metaverse leapt to prominence when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed his company’s name to ‘Meta’ in order to position itself at the head of the future metaverse revolution. However, in many ways, it is already with us through social and immersive platforms such as Roblox, Fortnite, SecondLife and Minecraft. 

However, enthusiasts see a world not too dissimilar to the movie Ready Player One in which the technology has become so advanced that people can spend more and more time in these fantastical virtual worlds. They will develop their own communities and their own economies – powered by their own digital currencies. It’s a web 3.0 vision of the future which could make or break a powerhouse of the traditional entertainment world such as Sony. 

In recent times, Sony’s business model has become increasingly dominated by music, games and movies. These three sectors contributed two-thirds of their income up to the year ending March. It underscores their transition from a manufacturer of consumer electronics to a modern entertainment giant intent on becoming metaverse-ready.  

This new world will force them to move quickly. Many observers believe the rise of cloud-based and cross platform titles could reduce the influence of their flagship Playstation 5 console. However, Sony has been adapting. In 2018 it enabled cross play in Fortnight and, this week Epic games announced that in game currency known as V-Bucks purchased on PlayStation could be used on other platforms. 

In a Tweet, CEO Tim Sweeney said:  "PlayStation has played a huge role in the social gaming revolution that's nurturing the growth of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium."

Sony is also moving beyond single player titles with a deal to buy Bungie, the developer most famous for the online multiplayer shooter game Destiny. 

"We believe it will be a catalyst to enhance our live service game capabilities... (It) represents a major step forward in becoming multi-platform," Yoshida said.

Sony is already making great strides into the cross platform world and licenses its content to other platforms although it has not pushed as aggressively as the likes of Disney into the online streaming world. 

Back in the real world, the strategy briefing also showed how Sony is pushing into the world of mobility, developing an electric vehicle with Honda. They are, they say, planning to transform the mobility space into a new entertainment space. 

“We believe mobility will be the next megatrend," Yoshida added. 

Sony, then, is looking to plant itself at the edge of several emerging trends: mobility and the metaverse. Their fortunes over the next decade will be largely shaped by whether they’ve positioned themselves for the right bandwagon.  

(Writing by Tom Cropper, editing by Klaudia Fior)

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