Sony said it is well-positioned to take a major role in the metaverse, or immersive virtual worlds, which pundits predict could radically disrupt sectors and generate new powerhouses.
The word “metaverse” refers to the assumption that consumers would spend more time in online simulated worlds. While the notion is still growing, it has become a catchphrase in briefings and a driving force behind business dealmaking.
“The metaverse is both a social place and a live network area where games, music, movies, and anime connect,” Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said at a strategy briefing on Wednesday, referring to Epic Games’ free-to-play battle royale blockbuster Fortnite as an online social environment.
In the fiscal year ending March 31, Sony’s gaming, music, and movie divisions generated two-thirds of operational income, highlighting the company’s metamorphosis from a consumer electronics manufacturer to a metaverse-ready entertainment behemoth under Yoshida and predecessor Kazuo Hirai.
With its PlayStation 5 console, the company is a gaming gatekeeper, but critics warn of the risk posed by the rise of cross-platform, cloud-based products and their potential to erode the power of proprietary platforms.
Sony has changed its strategy, allowing cross-play in Fortnite in 2018. Epic said this week that in-game “V-Bucks” cash purchased on PlayStation will be transferable to other platforms.
“PlayStation has played a big part in the social gaming revolution that is encouraging the rise of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted.
Sony has also made measures to broaden its emphasis beyond single-player projects like “Spider-Man: Miles Morales,” with a January deal to acquire Bungie, the developer of the online multiplayer shooter “Destiny.”
“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 licenses its material to other platforms, benefitting from the value of content to streamers such as the iconic US comedy “Seinfeld.” Despite owning the Crunchyroll anime streaming service, the company has not been as active in developing its own video platforms as competitors such as Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) with its Disney+ service.
Beyond the metaverse, Yoshida set out Sony’s position in mobility, with the conglomerate working with Honda Motor Co Ltd on an electric car (7267.T).
Sony pioneered a new way of living with the introduction of the Walkman in 1979, according to Yoshida.
“We want to transform the mobility space into a new entertainment zone… Mobility, we feel, will be the next megatrend “He stated.