Sony goes forward in the metaverse

Sony Group Corp, a Japanese conglomerate, said it is well-positioned to take a leading role in the metaverse, or immersive virtual worlds, which analysts predict would disrupt industries and create new powerhouses.

The phrase “metaverse” refers to the assumption that people will spend more time in online virtual worlds. While the concept is still emerging, it has become a catchphrase in industry briefings and a driving force behind business deals.

“The metaverse is a social area and a live network environment where games, music, movies, and anime meet,” said Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida at a strategy briefing on Wednesday, pointing to Epic Games’ free-to-play battle royale game Fortnite as an example.

Under Yoshida and his predecessor Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s game, music, and movie operations provided two-thirds of operational income in the fiscal year ended March, highlighting the company’s metamorphosis from a consumer electronics manufacturer to a metaverse-ready entertainment behemoth.

With its PlayStation 5 console, Sony is a gaming gatekeeper, but observers warn that the rise of cross-platform, cloud-based games, and their ability to undermine the influence of proprietary platforms, poses a threat.

Sony has changed its strategy, allowing cross-play in Fortnite in 2018. Epic announced this week that in-game “V-Bucks” purchased on PlayStation would be transferable to other platforms

On Twitter, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said, “PlayStation has played a big role in the social gaming revolution that’s nourishing the emergence of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium.”

Sony has also taken moves to diversify its portfolio beyond single-player games like “Spider-Man: Miles Morales,” with the acquisition of Bungie, the creator of the online multiplayer shooter “Destiny,” revealed in January.

“We anticipate it will serve as a catalyst to improve our live service game capabilities… (It) represents a significant step toward becoming multi-platform,” Yoshida added.

Sony already licenses its content to other platforms, benefitting from the value of popular American sitcom “Seinfeld” to streamers. Despite owning the Crunchyroll anime streaming service, the company has not pursued video platforms as aggressively as rivals such as Walt Disney Co with its Disney+ service.

Beyond the metaverse, Yoshida set out Sony’s position in mobility, with the company working with Honda Motor Co Ltd on an electric vehicle.


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