TOKYO, May 18 Japanese conglomerate Sony gears up Group Corp says it is well-positioned to play a major role in the metaverse, or immersive virtual world, which commentators speculate will disrupt the industry on a large scale and build new powerhouses.
Sony gears up for metaverse revolution
Metaverse is a vague term that encapsulates the idea that consumers will spend more time in online simulated environments. While the concept has evolved, it has become a buzzword in briefings and a driver of industry deal-making.
“The metaverse is at the same time a social space and a live networking space where games, music, movies, and anime intersect,” Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said at today’s strategy briefing, pointing to the use of free-to-play battle royale titles. Fortnite from Epic Games as an online social space.
Sony’s games, music, and movies unit accounted for two-thirds of operating revenue in the year ended March, underscoring the group’s transformation from a consumer electronics maker to a metaverse-ready entertainment giant under Yoshida and his predecessor Kazuo Hirai.
The company is a gaming gatekeeper with its PlayStation 5 console, but observers point to the risks posed by the growth of cross-platform, cloud-based titles and their potential to reduce the influence of proprietary platforms.
Sony has adjusted its approach, enabling cross-play in Fortnite in 2018. This week, Epic said the in-game “V-Bucks” currency purchased on PlayStation would be usable on other platforms.
“PlayStation has played a huge role in the social gaming revolution nurturing the growth of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium,” said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney on Twitter.
Sony has also taken steps to expand beyond its focus on single-player titles such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales with a deal announced in January to buy Bungie, the developer of the online multiplayer shooter Destiny.
“We believe this will be a catalyst for increasing our live service gaming capabilities… (This is) a big step forward to becoming multi-platform,” said Yoshida.
Sony is already licensing its content to other platforms, profiting from the value to content streamers like the popular US sitcom Seinfeld. Although the company owns the anime streaming service Crunchyroll, it is not pushing as aggressively to operate its own video platform as rivals such as Walt Disney Co with its Disney+ service.
Beyond the metaverse, Yoshida has also staked out Sony’s claims in mobility, with the conglomerate developing electric vehicles with Honda Motor Co Ltd.
With the introduction of the Walkman in 1979, Sony ushered in a new way of living, according to Yoshida.
“We aim to transform the mobility space into a new entertainment space. We believe mobility will be the next megatrend,” he said. Reuters.