comparison of platforms, centralized or not

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

In May 2022, a report by the McKinsey firm mentioned a potential value creation around the metaverse of $5 trillion by 2030. Nevertheless, this same report admits from its introduction that the term, which was first used in 1992 by Neal Stephenson in his novel “Snowfall” “remains to be defined, both literally and figuratively”. Originally, the definition covered an infrastructure similar to the Internet, but immersive. Today, the term only characterizes platforms, given the current state of technology and the lack of interoperability between them.

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

Centralized metaverses

If those under thirty did not know him, the pioneer of the metaverse is French and is called “The Second World”, a Canal+ Interactive project for the immersive reproduction of Paris available on Windows and MacOS from 1997 and stopped in 2002, despite having a strong community of 200,000 users.

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

If all these metaverses do not all have the same vocation (Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite are video game platforms, while the others remain social interaction environments), they all rely on similar standards in terms of monetization: a large part of UGC, this acronym meaning user-generated content or content created by the user – belongs to them. To create interactivity, these metaverses allow users to create virtual assets, in the form of a skin, an object, an architecture, but if this content is transferable, the distribution of value raises many questions.

At Roblox, creators only get about 30% of their revenue. On the Meta’s Horizon Worlds side, the creator will give 25% of his sales back to Meta, not including the fees the store takes (30% in the case of the Meta Quest Store). With Minecraft, the fee is 30%. At Fortnite, only external creators approved by the platform can create game environments – according to Epic’s CEO, they are responsible for half of the game time – and the game’s terms of service do not even allow the creation of the game. resale of virtual item purchase: users are therefore not the owners of these virtual assets. In Second Life, land purchased by users remains the property of publisher Linden Labs.

Moreover, in the event of the disappearance of these platforms, users also lose their purchases and creations without the possibility of transferring them to another world.

Web 3.0 metaverses

Screenshot from Gucci Vault Land in The Sandbox © Sandbox

Better sharing of value and the possibility of owning a digital asset is lifted from Web3 platforms such as The Sandbox, Decentraland or even Somnium Space. A wish made possible by the blockchain infrastructure.

If the environment in these worlds is still run on the servers of the companies in question, it is nevertheless 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, nobody can tell me that I can’t sell my house. If I have digital ownership of my asset, I have complete freedom. We’re moving from shareholder capitalism to participatory capitalism, whether it’s an owner of an avatar, of a virtual terrain.”

As soon as the creator has the key to his wallet, he is the full owner of this content and can therefore integrate and monetize it at a much lower cost than on Web2 platforms: Decentraland transactions for example are taxed at 2.5%, 5% to the Sandbox. In addition, the creator is free to link the collection of royalties on his creations to each secondary sale. Another big factor in this type of creation concerns interoperability: a user can now use the same NFT in The Sandbox and Decentraland, although it still requires a few steps.

Finally, a Web3 infrastructure enables other community levers to be enabled: Decentraland has notably opened up part of its governance through a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) to the holders of its tokens and its land, allowing them to vote transparently. political choices.

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