With billions of people and millions of apps, can Unity create the metaverse?


If you define the Metaverse as a galaxy of Ready-Player-One-style virtual locations, games, and experiences, perhaps no company is better positioned to deliver it than Unity.

The company’s software powers literally millions of games, including 71% of the top 1,000 mobile games and half of all PC and console games. Over 2.5 billion people play games with Unity, and perhaps 4 to 5 billion devices have software powered by Unity. By the way, what software works on more than 20 different platforms.

Which brings up a question:

What if Unity created hallways, doors, and portals between all of these experiences, effectively ushering in a cross-device, cross-platform, and massively multiplayer online multiverse?

No, it wouldn’t be easy. It would not be automatic either. Unity software may be the source of millions of games, worlds, and 3D experiences, but what developers do with the tools Unity provides is up to them. And it’s not necessarily clear how you would add a portal to the distracted globe or the castle anorak in Subway Surfers. The benefit for application and game publishers would not be immediately clear either.

This is probably the reason why Unity is positioning itself in the pickaxes and shovels industry for the gaming gold rush, the 3D content gold rush and, if it is about that, the multiverse gold rush.

“I think we’re committed to playing a supporting role … with all creators and, let’s face it, democratizing access to content,” Julie Shoemaker, senior vice president of revenue at Unity for the “Create” segment of the company. told me recently on the TechFirst podcast. “Our obligation is to empower creators to create and help them make money from the start.”

Shoemaker thinks we’re actually pretty close to a Metaverse experience.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, of course, is quite into the metaverse to the point of renaming the company, and while Meta’s vision of the metaverse hinges largely on the Oculus line of VR headsets, Unity sees the metaverse like the current Internet transition of the text. from video to real-time 3D experiences.

However, as befits a company that provides aggressive cross-platform development tools, being open is essential for Unity.

“Do we really want an omnipotent CEO or a superpower that builds and runs the metaverse? The shoemaker asks. “Or do we think it’s unlimited access to the doors we choose to enter? “

MORE FORBESThe metaverse is the Internet

The answer to this question largely depends on those with the power to create the future.

The first Internet was an Internet of text designed to be resilient and redirectable, and the result was that we got open space and a blank sheet, in a sense, resistant to centralized control. The tech giants and (non) net neutrality and national splinternets with the (digital) Great Walls, of course, have dramatically altered that initial intention.

Who will build the next Internet of 3D presence and interconnectable spaces will have a lot to say about what the digital commons will look like in 2030 or 2040. Facebook alone is spending the money. 10 billion dollars on metaverse this year; other tech giants like Apple and Google are also investing in devices and tools for a common metaverse.

Of course, everyone will claim to build an open ecosystem. But the details of how it takes shape will almost certainly favor some owners of infrastructure, content, and technology.

And it will be potentially global.

“This next phase where this metaverse is your life, your work and your game, I think it’s super exciting,” says Shoemaker. “We just launched Unity Gaming Services this week, which is a seamless way – with just a few clicks – to get up and running with multiplayer gaming and the fastest way to do cross-platform and multiplayer games. It sounds a lot like the metaverse.

It does.

And yet, for Unity to be a force in creating the future potential of the metaverse that is Ready Player One-ish (as opposed to the more likely version of the next internet, only with more 3D options), it would have to offer new features. Unity is expected to offer doors, hallways, and virtual common areas that developers could choose to include. Equally important, Unity should define why app and game developers should care, and why they should consider opening windows, doors, or portals to their apps – where they want people to come and go. where they want people to stay – and how they would benefit from it.

None of these are slam dunks, and none of these are easy.

But the starting point of a call for developers is probably this: Doors open both ways, and doors people can exit are also doors people can enter.

In any case, it’s up to Unity to decide.

Because if a metaverse of the future means more than augmented reality on our phones or glasses as we walk the world, or immersive experiences via headsets that we dip our toes into for a meeting or event – in other words In terms, if it is more of a complete and multifaceted myriad of spaces and places – then someone has to provide not only the tools to construct the spaces and places, but also the entrances.

Why not Unity?

What is likely, of course, is that an internet on steroids and augmented reality are more likely to be the first manifestations of the metaverse. And that’s where Unity’s bets now lie.

“We believe real-time 3D and the Internet are the metaverse,” Shoemaker told me.

I can’t argue. But I also can’t ignore the whispers from the back of my scalp that there is an unexamined opportunity here as well.

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