TOKYO, May 18 (Reuters) – Japanese conglomerate Sony Group Corp (6758.T) said it is well positioned to play a leading role in the metaverse, or immersive virtual worlds, which commentators speculate will massively disrupt industries and establish new powerhouses.
The metaverse is a vague term that sums up the idea that consumers will spend more time in simulated environments online. While the concept is evolving, it has become a briefing buzzword and a driver of industry negotiation.
“The metaverse is at the same time a social space and a live network space where games, music, movies and anime intersect,” Chief Executive Kenichiro Yoshida said at a strategy briefing on Wednesday, noting the free Battle Royale use. Epic Games’ Fortnite title as an online social space.
Sony’s games, music and movie units contributed two-thirds of operating income in the year to March, underscoring the group’s transformation from consumer electronics maker to metaverse-ready entertainment giant under the direction of Yoshida and his predecessor Kazuo Hirai.
The company is a game watchdog with its PlayStation 5 console, however observers point to the risk posed by the growth of cloud-based cross-platform titles and its potential to reduce the influence of proprietary platforms.
Sony has been adjusting its approach, allowing cross-play in Fortnite in 2018. This week, Epic said that in-game currency “V-Bucks” purchased on PlayStation could be used on other platforms.
“PlayStation has played a huge role in the social gaming revolution that is fueling the growth of the metaverse as a new entertainment medium,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said on Twitter.
Sony has also taken steps to expand beyond its focus on single-player titles like “Spider-Man: Miles Morales,” with a deal announced in January to buy Bungie, the developer of the multiplayer online shooter. Destiny.”
“We think it will be a catalyst to enhance our live service gaming capabilities… (This) represents a big step forward in becoming cross-platform,” Yoshida said.
Sony already licenses its content to other platforms, benefiting from the value for streamers of content such as the popular American sitcom “Seinfeld.” Although the company owns anime streaming service Crunchyroll, it hasn’t put as much effort into operating its own video platforms as rivals like Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) with its Disney+ service.
Beyond the metaverse, Yoshida also staked Sony’s claim on mobility, with the conglomerate developing an electric vehicle with Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T).
Sony created a new lifestyle in 1979 with the launch of the Walkman, Yoshida said.
“Our goal is to turn the mobility space into a new entertainment space… We believe that mobility will be the next megatrend,” he said.