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Microsoft has announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard, accelerating the growth in Microsoft’s gaming business across mobile, PC, console and cloud and will provide building blocks for the metaverse. From their press release, “gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms.”
Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision/Blizzard was astounding, and no doubt the simple way to look at this is to get the great IP and Player Base, and showing Microsoft’s commitment to gaming.
But I think there’s a bigger play for the future here - given that “metaverse” was referenced twice in this official announcement. What does that mean for Microsoft?
From Matthew Ball, author of the Metaverse Primer: “The Metaverse is an expansive network of persistent, real-time rendered 3D worlds and simulations that support continuity of identity, objects, history, payments, and entitlements, and can be experienced synchronously by an effectively unlimited number of users, each with an individual sense of presence.”
And from Meta, or the company previously known as Facebook: “The ‘metaverse’ is a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”
For gaming this means:
Currently we have pockets of the metaverse, centered around publishers.
Imagine pocket metaverse is like a country - when you arrive in it, you may have a national ID card that establishes your identity.
You keep some money in your wallet, and your money is good in that country to buy the goods there.
You may travel freely from city to city within that country; and all your national records within that country are available to all the officials - your driving history, your bank transactions, your purchase history, the piece of land you own, and so on.
As you stay in the country, you might start building friendships and contacts with the folks also in that country - that’s how you can build meaningful relationships by doing fun activities together there.
When you visit another country though, you need to assume a new identity, as the countries do not share information between one another.
That country is akin to the pocket metaverse that currently exists - and they are currently built around publishers.
Notice that when it’s the first time you’re playing the games of a publisher who have actively invested in building their own pocket metaverse, you are incentivized to create a publisher-level account - where it will track all your purchases, friends, gameplay progression, entitlements - for all games within that publisher.
Some are big (EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Activision, etc) and they will try to keep you engaged within that country walled garden for as long as they can because it’s good for business.
How? By making it a seamless experience to move from game to game within the pocket metaverse, by using a custom launcher such as Uplay or Battle.net, or by having all your social connections follow you from game to game. They can also do cross-game promotion by using your gameplay progression data, or purchase history, to create a personalized player journey, with the hope that players will stay in that pocket metaverse.
And now thanks to the $68.7 billion tectonic shift, Microsoft's metaverse just got a whole bigger (in addition to their $7.5 billion deal with Bethesda last year).
I believe that true metaverse will finally be achieved when we standardize interoperability between these pocket metaverses.
In that future state, players will take their content/object/data/ownership rights and move from one experience to another freely. Thankfully, with the advent of various new technologies such as blockchain/web3, decentralized identity, or even AccelByte's approach to backend interoperability - we have the building blocks laid for this future vision.
This idea is one we’re excited about at AccelByte, and one that aligns very closely with our core mission, to bring studios together for the long term health of the game industry. Interested in learning what we’re doing and how we can help you prepare for the metaverse? Request a demo here.