A complicated battle is already shaping up for a universe that, although very few people understand at the moment, could go on to shape our daily lives in the next few years. Although the preliminary metaverse might come across as weird – or even stupid – to a first-time visitor, new technologies and massive investments might well whip up a far more advanced version within our grasps.  

The critical question, then, is: who will control the metaverse? Will the corporations be in charge of it, or will this virtual universe be open and decentralized?

The Lines of Battle For Who Will Control The Metaverse?

chess pieces depicting Who Will Control The Metaverse

On one side of the battle lines are corporations like Facebook striving to control our entry into the metaverse, and as well as the profit that is generated through it. The other side consists of pioneers wanting an open architecture that will welcome a vast ecosystem of developers and will be managed by the metaverse community itself. Armed with blockchain and other new technologies, these pioneers are battling for an interoperable and decentralized digital universe, where individuals can genuinely own digital assets, and any value is shared among all the people contributing to this network. 

Established organizations are ready to dish out massive arsenals in their quest to dominate the metaverse. Tech giants like Microsoft believe that the metaverse will be the gathering place of the future, both for business and socialization – and, of course, when a lot of people assemble at a certain place, the opportunities to make money are endless. 

According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook will transform from a social media platform to a metaverse company over the next half a decade, with the objective of making the metaverse accessible to over a billion people throughout the world and generating billions of dollars through digital commerce, by the end of this decade. 

Roblox, meanwhile, is one of the leading players looking to disrupt Meta’s attempt to dominate the metaverse in the mid- to long-term future. 

In May of last year, Roblox hosted the two-week Gucci Garden, which was an art installation aimed at developing brand awareness within younger buyers. This digital space was a virtual reconstruction of a physical installation present in Florence, with Gucci wanting to narrate the brand’s story prior to its centenary. Upon entering the arena, visitors could see, try on, and even buy Gucci products for their avatars before checking out a series of themed digital rooms. 

However, Roblox, as of late, has not been enjoying a great time on Wall Street. The gaming platform reported that it was unable to achieve its earning target for the fourth quarter of 2021, despite seeing an 83% increase in its revenue. This is perhaps an indication of the fact that the hype surrounding the metaverse has yet to make its way out of the tech boardroom and towards the general public. 

According to the Expert:

According to Emma Chiu, the global director at the Wunderman Thompson Intelligence, a single company will struggle to gain ownership of the entire metaverse: The metaverse is essentially the creation of a new society that is tech-enabled. It will be very hard for one company to have ownership because the people, the users, will revolt.”

Emma Chiu believes that, since there would be no metaverse without its participants, the people controlling the metaverse would be the people. “Without anyone participating, the metaverse would not exist. So, whilst companies may be racing to have ownership of the metaverse, the people will not allow for sole ownership”, claims Chiu. 

How Should the Virtual Universes be Governed and Controlled?

Recently, in October 2021, people realized just how dangerous it could be to allow a bunch of individuals to be in-charge of our digital universes. The Facebook Papers – several thousand pages of internal documents – show how executives, time and time again, chose to ignore research proving that Facebook contributes to social harm. 

Before we attain a genuinely immersive metaverse, we will have to face the moment of reckoning that will determine how this digital universe shall be governed. Will a small bunch of powerful corporations set the rules, or will we be able to find a way for the society to work together to create a flourishing and vibrant metaverse that is governed and controlled by the participants themselves?

Final Word

At this point in time, the only thing that we can be sure of is that the metaverse contains plenty of potential waiting to be unleashed. As for the fight to rule the metaverse, it is safe to say that we are just getting started.