comparison between platforms, centralized and not

The metaverse is often associated with Web3, without always being adequate. In addition to the underlying technology, ownership and therefore user remuneration varies radically.

In May 2022, a McKinsey corporation report mentioned a potential $5 trillion worth of value creation around the metaverse by 2030. However, since its introduction, this same report admits that the term, first used in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his novel “Snow Crash” “remains to be defined, both literally and figuratively”. Originally, the definition covers an Internet-like but immersive infrastructure. Today the term characterizes only the platforms, given the current state of the technology and the lack of interoperability between them.

These platforms do not have the same characteristics: while they can all be described as a 3D social environment populated by avatars, they are distinguished by their openness and the freedom offered to their users. We therefore find metaverses with a centralized infrastructure and others that are more open, which imply a certain degree of decentralization and openness of the ecosystem.

Centralized metaverses

If those under thirty didn’t know him, the metaverse pioneer is French and is called “The Second World”, a project by Canal+ Interactive for the immersive reproduction of Paris accessible on Windows and MacOS since 1997 and interrupted in 2002, despite having a strong community of 200,000 users.

On its ashes appeared in 2003 Second Life, the first metaverse of the web: sometimes perceived as a relic of the Internet, however, the platform is still very active today and above all has laid the foundations for its successors: VRChat, Roblox, Minecraft, Fortnite o Worlds of Meta Horizon.

If all these metaverses don’t all have the same vocation (Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite are video game platforms while the others remain environments of social interaction), they all rely on similar standards in terms of monetization: an important part of UGC, this acronym that means user-generated content or user-created content – ​​it belongs to them. To create interactivity, these metaverses allow users to create virtual assets, in the form of skins, objects, architectures, but whether this content is transferable, the distribution of value raises many questions.

At Roblox, creators only get about 30% of their revenue. As for Meta’s Horizon Worlds, the creator will return 25% of his sales to Meta, not counting the fees taken from the store (30% in the case of the Meta Quest Store). In Minecraft, the commission is 30%. In Fortnite, only platform-approved external creators can create in-game environments — they’re responsible for half of the time played, according to Epic’s CEO — and the game’s terms of service don’t even allow creating the game for resale of virtual items. purchases: users are therefore not the owners of these virtual goods. In Second Life, land purchased by users remains the property of the publisher Linden Lab.

Furthermore, in the event of the disappearance of these platforms, users also lose their purchases and creations, with no possibility of transferring them to another world.

Metaverse Web 3.0

Screenshot from Gucci Vault Land in The Sandbox © The sandbox

Better sharing of value and the ability to own a digital asset is the promise of Web3 platforms like The Sandbox, Decentraland or even Somnium Space. A wish made possible by the blockchain infrastructure.

If the environment of these worlds is still running on the servers of the companies concerned, it is still open to the integration of external content, created on a blockchain, most often Ethereum or Polygon, in the form of NFTs. During an interview with JDN at Gitex in Dubai, Yat Siu, founder of Animoca Brands (owner of The Sandbox) insisted on the importance of this concept: “In Web3, no one can tell me I’m not authorized to sell my house “If I have digital ownership of my asset, I have complete freedom. We are moving from shareholder capitalism to participant capitalism, whether it’s an avatar owner, a virtual land.”

As soon as the creator holds the key to his wallet, he is the complete owner of this content and can therefore integrate and monetize it at much lower costs than on Web2 platforms: Decentraland transactions are, for example, taxed at 2.5%, 5% for the sandbox. Furthermore, the creator is free to associate the collection of royalties on his creations with each secondary sale. Another important factor of this type of creation concerns interoperability: a user can now use the same NFT within The Sandbox and Decentraland, although it still requires a few steps.

Finally, a Web3 infrastructure allows to activate other levers of the community: Decentraland has in particular opened part of its governance through a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) for the owners of its tokens and its land, allowing them to vote transparently on political strategies or choices.

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