The interoperability problem.
Everybody wants to play gatekeeper, but who actually holds the keys?
No matter how you define “metaverse” or what it means to the broader market, you’ll find that every platform is trying to have its own ecosystem and product set to be the “one true metaverse” for all to flock to.
The offerings of each usually break down to include a feature set like the following:
Avatar creation and customization
VR platform integration
Virtual real estate management — and the marketplace for it
Virtual event and entertainment management
Payment processing and monetization solutions
UGC/game engine tool support
3D content creation and management
Virtual economy systems
Virtual asset management and security
Among, I’m sure many others that I missed. If you browse the top platforms that brand themselves as metaverse or social gaming, you’ll probably find that every single one includes talking points for at least half that list.
But yeah — of course they are. Who WOULDN’T want to be the primary go-to virtual destination for every major industry, virtually? What sane person would deny the opportunity to control real estate, fashion, economics, entertainment, and everything in between?
But, everything is in its own bubble. They all have their own marketplaces, file formats, integration flow, SDKs, and APIs to learn and build from… it becomes a mess quickly. Platform A doesn’t play well with Platform B — so now you, as a game developer, need to reimagine your workflow to some other tech stack. Platform B has issues with people publishing similar content on other platforms, so you can’t re-use your stuff., Then platform D goes under, and all your work is lost — among everything your users were building for.
Every single platform is acting like they’re the gatekeepers to a virtual world that doesn’t yet exist and battling for who should hold the keys to this social ecosystem - it should be open. Interoperable. Instead of deciding how we can best power juggle as many features as we can in our platform, we should be pondering how we can better create and form open standards that make these totally unique.
Could you imagine if the internet worked the way these virtual worlds are coming together? The beauty of the world wide web is the open standards that make it all possible. Imagine if you needed a specific device and browser to read these words. If you want to send me your thoughts by email after — you do it. You write me an email - no matter your provider or app of choice I’ll receive it. There’s no weird SDK friend system that both of our email apps needed to have integrated.
Don’t get me wrong, the web has a lot of issues, too. Behemoth companies with thousands of employees power most of the internet, but some aspects act as a guiding light of what interoperability enables us all to do. The fundamental frameworks of the internet are open standards, accessible to everybody that wants to port forward their router and get rolling.
We’re moving forward at a highly rapid pace — let’s not do it in silos.