As traditional gaming tokens like Fortnite’s V-bucks eventually evolve into cryptocurrency in the emerging metaverse, the notion that Xbox, PlayStation, and others might want to keep users locked into a proprietary environment worth billions isn’t far fetched.

Although some imagine a free-flowing metaverse that mirrors the relative openness of the internet, the reality will more likely mirror current centralized blockchain projects, with separate metaverses controlled by their creators and that require the use of platform-specific gaming tokens to buy and trade virtual items. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and virtual clothing are already hinting at the potential of blockchain-based microtransactions for gaming.

The global microtransactions market was projected to generate roughly $35 billion in 2021 across gaming platforms like Electronic Arts, Valve Corporation, Tencent Holdings, Activision Blizzard, and others. With that much money at stake, gaming platforms will be incentivized to deploy their own payment and trading tokens in their metaverses.

Divvying up the metaverse may lead to moats separating competing gaming platforms

The question of exclusivity versus cross-platform compatibility won’t just be limited to currency in the metaverse. Things such as customized avatars and virtual clothing will also become part of the dynamic, challenging the companies running major gaming environments to work harder to either ensure openness or go the easier, more profitable route of walled gardens. 

And while Activision Blizzard and Bungie are primarily focused on traditional screen-based gaming, they are now both owned by companies with significant investments in virtual reality via Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality platform and Sony’s PlayStation VR. As the metaverse story continues to develop, the fragile détente between Microsoft and Sony’s gaming platforms will be difficult to maintain as the $180 billion gaming market continues to grow each year. 

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