It’s one thing to talk about the metaverse. Plenty of companies are “strategizing” about how to best take advantage of the next great evolution of the internet. However, it’s a whole other matter when a company actually puts money where its mouth is and begins heavily investing in creating the digital reality that so many folks are excited to share.
Accordingly, a select handful of companies are forging ahead, building out the concept, technology, and foundation of the metaverse as the world is beginning to understand it. These are the top 5 companies presently creating the metaverse.
1). Meta Platforms
When Facebook changed its name to Meta in October 2021, it fundamentally changed the game for the auspices of the metaverse. Every company–not just tech, not just social media–was formally put on notice that the metaverse was already here and they had better start planning for a more immersive, socially-connected future.
Meta Platforms is the largest player in the space … by far. The company is investing $10 billion PER YEAR into the concept. That’s a ton of resources being devoted to the metaverse. And not just money, either. We’re talking about the best and brightest programmers on earth, so you can expect the unexpected when it comes to announcements and developments in the pipeline.
As for the hardware, Meta has already sold millions of its Oculus VR headgear units for navigating the metaverse. Plus, the company just released the Meta Quest Pro, the market’s most advanced headset to date. All told, Meta DOMINATES this realm, with Oculus commanding upwards of 90% of the VR headgear market share.
Meeting on Zoom is so 2020. Sometime in the near future, you and your colleagues will meet in the metaverse, and for good reason.
Microsoft is building out its Microsoft Teams service–the company’s competitor to Zoom–to include a component called Mesh. Mesh allows teams to meet virtually from different physical locations in shared holographic and virtual spaces.
So forget staring into your laptop camera while trying to keep track of all those people in little boxes. Instead, virtual meetings can feature yourself as an avatar with an actual presence, making eye contact, using video surfaces and digital dry erase boards to give presentations.
Microsoft has already been working with professional services firm Accenture to create Mesh enabled immersive spaces. Accenture hires more than 100,000 people every year and uses Mesh to help onboard new employees.
Furthermore, Microsoft busted out the checkbook in a big way in early 2022, buying video game publisher Activision Blizzard–the company behind Call of Duty and Warcraft–in a deal valued at $68.7 billion. Microsoft bluntly stated that it was a move made in anticipation of the metaverse.
3). Epic Games
Epic Games makes the wildly popular online game series Fortnite, which itself is already an iteration of the metaverse shared by some 350 million users. However, a little bit of time and a whole lot of money will soon bring the concept to the next level. That’s because Epic Games, powered by their Unreal Engine software for game developers, raised $1 billion funding in 2021 for building out their version of the metaverse, including $200 million from Sony Group Corp.
Epic Games’ vision of the metaverse is more intimate and personalized than Meta’s, in that it wants to provide a communal space for users to interact with each other and brands–without a news feed riddled with ads.
“I strongly believe that this aligns with our purpose to fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, chairman, president and CEO at Sony Group Corp. in a statement.
The House of Mouse is going meta. While Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of the metaverse feels rather opaque, nobody can deny the immediate excitement of anticipating what Disney can deliver with the concept.
Imagine being able to exist and interact within the worlds of Marvel or Star Wars. Or perhaps visiting Disney’s theme parks from the comfort of your own home thousands of miles away.
A lot of details are currently under wraps. However, Disney CEO Bob Chapek indeed confirmed that the metaverse would be linked to its streaming service, Disney+.
Disney+ metaverse users will be able to experience park rides in virtual reality with “the 90 percent of people that will never ever be able to get to a Disney park [will be able] to experience it in virtual reality,” Chapek said.
Disney now has an inside lane into monetizing a massive user base that, without the metaverse, would never get to experience Disney attractions due to financial or migratory constraints.
“We wish every person would have the opportunity to come to our parks, but we realize that’s not a reality for some people,’ Chapek added. “We have before us an opportunity to turn what was a movie-service platform into an experiential platform and give them the ability to ride Haunted Mansion from a virtual standpoint.”
Once Disney leads the way and starts banking additional metaverse revenue, every other experiential services company is bound to follow suit.
Some may be surprised to see Apple on this list. After all, Apple CEO Tim Cook isn’t a proponent of the metaverse. Or is he?
The problem is that there’s some disagreement over what the “metaverse” actually is. Cook believes it to be putting on a headset and floating around in a digital space. However, it’s more commonly considered to be any digital 3D application beyond the typical 2D internet as we presently know it. Therefore, VR (spaces that exist purely in Virtual Reality) along with AR (applications that combine digital assets with the tangible world to create Augmented Reality (think of Pokemon Go)) are also considered to be part of the metaverse.
Accordingly, while Cook isn’t too keen on his understanding of the metaverse, Apple is indeed building an augmented reality headset.
“I am incredibly excited about AR as you might know. And the critical thing to any technology, including AR, is putting humanity at the center of it,” he said, echoing comments he’s made in the past about how important AR is to the company.
That is more than enough to raise the eyebrows of anyone who understands the significance of such a statement. After all, when Apple commits to building a new piece of hardware, it’s a BIG DEAL, and its inevitable release will send shockwaves throughout the tech universe and beyond.
Therefore, given the gargantuan financial resources that Apple has on hand to change the market (and seemingly the world) as it pleases, expect the company to fundamentally shape the metaverse, whether or not it calls it by that name.