The biggest issue that needs solving with regards to whether the metaverse is open or closed is one of economics. Closed metaverses are an easier problem to solve. Regardless of what content is available within a closed metaverse, that content remains within. How that content is made is almost beside the point; if content is company made or if it’s user generated, it all remains within the single world.
An open metaverse, though, supposes a wide range of different worlds all interconnected. Maybe through the blockchain, or through some other technology. The ideal is if someone owns a character skin that can be used in one game, they can then use that skin is a different game.
The idea of an open metaverse is that because someone owns the skin independent of any single game – a closed metaverse – their ownership allows usage everywhere.
A robust economy is key
“What happens when you want to use a Fortnite skin in Call of Duty?” asks Epic Games’ Marc Petit. “There has to be an economic model where the creator gets properly compensated; the platform gets compensated.”
It’s a fair point, but perhaps only the tip of the iceberg. Is the idea that a player owns a single skin which works across everything that considers itself a metaverse? Or does the hypothetical creator have to remake the skin to work with each specific game, and be duly compensated for that work?
What happens when a creator moves on to different pastures, or they simply grow bored? Is there an expectation of a skin working across metaverses in perpetuity? When new metaverses release will the skin no longer work? Can the owner of the skin hire someone new to modify it to work on new platforms, or does the modification create something new?
Does that require new rounds of compensation for the original creator, and the platforms the skin is meant to work on?
“I think they’re more economical issues than game design issues,” said Petit. “We are all in favor of skins that go from Roblox, to Fortnite, to Minecraft. But we’re gonna have to sit down with the other games to understand what’s the economics around that.”