The Metaverse as a technology segment has come into its own in the last two years, fueled by investments from companies like Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Epic Games, and others.
In 2020, the global Metaverse market was worth $47.69 billion USD and will reach $829 billion USD by 2028, according to a 2021 report from Emergen Research. There are seven companies leading the rise of the Metaverse and paving the way for market growth.
Decentraland was one of the first companies to come out with a viable proof-of-concept for the Metaverse, and leads the way in terms of market implementation. Founded in 2017, the company launched its Metaverse platform to the public in 2020 and has seen a recent surge in popularity.
Decentraland is a virtual reality (VR) space where users can create content, interact with one another, and earn money, primarily through investments in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), VR real estate, and other digital assets.
The platform is fully decentralized and operates via its own cryptocurrency called MANA. It is also a favorite among large investors, enterprises, and governments, namely after housing an official Barbadian embassy and new Samsung mini-city.
This top Metaverse platform was originally launched in 2012 as a multiplayer game for mobile phones and Microsoft Windows devices. The company developing Sandbox, PIXOWL Inc., was acquired by Animoca Brands in 2018, after which it gradually pivoted to the Metaverse.
Sandbox is a gaming environment where users can create games, participate in events, navigate VR worlds using maps, and purchase land, similar to Decentraland. It also has its own cryptocurrency token called SAND.
Sandbox, too, has proved to be a favorite among investors and brands. Gucci recently opened a VR store on the company’s Metaverse platform, where users can buy, own, and showcase their digital purchases from the brand. The firm has also partnered with video gaming company Ubisoft to introduce elements from gaming franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Prince of Persia into the Metaverse.
Cryptovoxels is a Metaverse platform built on the Ethereum blockchain protocol that offers a virtual gaming world that supports both VR experiences and PC use, where its community organizes regular events for users.
One can also create Metaverse real estate on the platform and put it up for sale, including both empty land parcels and prefabricated buildings such as harbors, streets, collaboration spaces, and art galleries.
In addition to virtual land, the platform has a large marketplace for buying and selling digital collectibles as NFTs, ranging from wearables and gaming props to artwork and apparel.
Somnium Space is a cross-device Metaverse platform that users can access through VR, PC, web, and mobile interfaces. It is built on Ethereum and Solana blockchain protocols and has its own asset marketplace.
Users will need to install the MetaMask or Dapper extension before running Somnium Space, but it is relatively easy to use and does not require VR headsets to enjoy all of its features.
Somnium Space has several unique capabilities that make it stand out in a competitive market. For instance, users can choose to ‘live forever,’ where they are automatically recorded on their virtual property for future AI analysis.
Even when the users can no longer access the platform, artificial intelligence will bring their avatars to life. Somnium is also a fully-scriptable world, allowing users to program their own experiences and develop monetizable assets.
Roblox is an online gaming and game creation system that has gradually evolved into a Metaverse platform that offers a wide variety of virtual experiences to its users, including VR ones.
The company recently partnered with the NFL to launch a Metaverse game ahead of the 2022 Super Bowl. Roblox has millions of users globally, and aims to bring together its massive user base and collection of experiences under a single roof.
Roblox is free to use, although one might need to purchase additional in-game objects and digital assets, and offers a range of VR experiences across different genres such as anime, horror, roleplay, action, and real-life simulations.
The company’s growth has been so phenomenal that it suffered a 73-hour outage last year, where it was unable to support millions of users. In 2022, it plans to add a number of new availability zones and data centers to support future growth.
Bloktopia is a Metaverse platform consisting of a virtual skyscraper with 21 discrete levels. Its users, Bloktopians, not only own cryptocurrency but can also access crypto information and content inside a unified world.
Like other Metaverse platforms, Bloktopia allows monetization through VR ads, gaming, and real estate ownership, and operates its own cryptocurrency token called BLOK.
The company offers a networking space called Blokpad, a launchpad for new Metaverse users and investors, where people can purchase land, view the details of Blok contracts, buy cryptocurrency, chat with other users, and read announcements. New projects on this Metaverse platform are showcased on Blokpad to simplify access.
Facebook rebranded to Meta last year and announced its intentions to develop a Metaverse platform based on its existing Oculus products. In addition to the company’s social media apps like Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, it invested heavily on building an integrated VR environment for work, play, and social activities. According to its Q4 earnings call, Meta spent approximately $10 billion on the Metaverse in 2021.
Unlike other platforms on this list, Meta is yet to launch a fully viable, consumer-facing version of the Metaverse. It has launched a few key components to date such as Horizon Worlds for content creation and its Presence Platform for designing naturalized immersive experiences.
2022 will be an important year for Meta, namely as its early investments mature. In addition to these top Metaverse platforms, Microsoft Mesh, Ali Metaverse by Alibaba, NVIDIA Omniverse, and Stageverse are also options to watch.