With A Cross-Platform Drive, Sony Prepares For A Metaverse Revolution

Sony Group Corp., a Japanese conglomerate, said it is well-positioned to take a major 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 at the same time a social space and live network space where games, music, movies and anime intersect,” Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said at a strategy briefing on Wednesday, pointing to the use of free-to-play battle royale title Fortnite from Epic Games as an online social space.

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.

“PlayStation has played a huge role in the social gaming revolution that’s nurturing the growth of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium,” Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney said on Twitter.

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 believe it will be a catalyst to enhance our live service game capabilities… (It) represents a major step forward in becoming multi-platform,” Yoshida said.

Sony already licences 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 (DIS.N) 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.

With the introduction of the Walkman in 1979, Sony ushered in a new way of living, according to Yoshida.

“We are aiming to turn the mobility space into a new entertainment space… We believe mobility will be the next megatrend,” he said.

(Adapted from JapanTimes.co.jp)

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