There has been a deluge, an absolute torrent, of metaverse news stories lately, partly sparked by Facebook’s October 2021 rebranding as Meta and its pivot to become a metaverse company, and partly because of the recent feverish interest and speculation in what I call the NFT metaverse platforms (both those existing and those not yet launched). As a result, the word “metaverse” is on a lot more people’s lips than it was a year ago!
Because of personal circumstances (e.g. the coronavirus pandemic, a 5-week strike by my union, etc.) I deeply regret that I have, thus far, been unable to find an opportunity to reorganize and recategorize my popular list of metaverse platforms, which, as you can clearly see from my WordPress stats below, has seen a truly remarkable surge of views in recent months:
When exploring the metaverse, it always helps to have a map of the territory (which is one of the reasons my list has become so popular lately). People want to know what is out there, and what their options are.
In the past, I have pointed readers to other people’s attempts at making sense of the ever-evolving metaverse and the many companies building it. One sterling example is the Directory of Collaborative XR Platforms, which aims to be a central repository of detailed information about XR collaboration products and platforms, primarily intended for the corporate and educational sector. I aspire to organize and categorize my own metaverse list to such an extent as the XR Collaboration website! I definitely recommend you check it out, if you have not already done so.
Well, guess what, people? Yesterday, I found another company who is working on creating a map of the territory! They are a consulting firm called Metaversed.
Metaversed bills itself as “the original metaverse consulting company”, saying:
We are passionate experts and thought-leaders in virtual worlds, MMOs, virtual reality, augmented reality, virtual goods and NFT’s. Since 2006 we’ve worked with global brands, game developers and publishers, agencies, start-ups, governments and investors providing de-facto analytics and strategic guidance coupled with high-impact, result-driven activation, consulting and advisory services. Oh, and we also do charts.
Metaversed claims a rather impressive list of previous and current clients:
But what I found most interesting (and especially dear to my librarian-cataloguer heart!) is that Metaversed has created a large, detailed alphabetical list, with an accompanying infographic, called the Metaverse Universe, which maps out as many social VR platforms and virtual worlds as they could find:
The Metaverse Universe and Radar charts show companies operating in the virtual worlds sector. The Universe chart shows virtual worlds segmented by how they are accessed (via browser or virtual reality headset) and whether they’re on or off a blockchain. The Radar Chart has a different perspective, grouping virtual worlds by major genre.
I especially like the way Metaversed has broken the metaverse market into sectors or segments, which is strikingly similar to my own personal thinking about how it should be organized and categorized. Here’s the breakdown of the Metaverse Universe infographic:
Category 1: Browser-Based (Flatscreen) Virtual Worlds
- Those aimed at the “Kids, Tweens & Teens” market* (e.g. Roblox, Avakin Life)
- Those aimed at older users (e.g. Second Life, IMVU†)
*Note that I do not endeavour to cover this particular segment of the metaverse on my blog, although I have written about it in passing. I also note that neither my list nor the Metaverse Universe attempts to cover the adult/sexual metaverse platforms, something in which I also have little interest in documenting (although the few times that I broke that rule, they rank among the most popular posts on my blog!).
†I would place IMVU firmly into the “Kids, Tweens and Teens” category myself, but part of the fun of analyzing other people’s maps of the territory is noticing these sorts of differences of opinion, which make you think about and question your own assumptions!
Category 2: Virtual worlds in VR (what I refer to as Social VR on my blog)
- Social VR with a rooms-based approach (e.g VRChat, Rec Room)
- Social VR with a worlds-based approach (e.g. AltspaceVR, Sansar)
Now, on first glance, I am uncertain as to why Metaversed’s map makes this distinction, so I will have to do a little more digging to understand the difference between what Metaversed considers “rooms” and “worlds” social VR platforms. Again, great food for thought! Hopefully, I can speak with the creator(s) of this map, who are currently uncredited on the Metaversed website (in fact, I can find no mention of the team behind Metaversed at all, which I do find a bit odd for a consulting firm who is angling for your business).
Category 3: Blockchain-Based Virtual Worlds in VR (a.k.a Blockchain/Crypto/NFT-Based Social VR)
- Those based on the Ethereum blockchain (e.g. Somnium Space, Spatial)
- Those based on another (i.e. non-Ethereum) blockchain
Category 4: Blockchain-Based, Browser-Based (Flatscreen) Virtual Worlds
- Those based on the Ethereum blockchain (e.g. Cryptovoxels, Decentraland)
- Those based on another blockchain (e.g. Mona)
This is an extremely thorough attempt at mapping out the territory, which gladdens my little librarian heart! It also takes into account the vibrant quarter-century history of the metaverse by including venerable platforms such as Active Worlds! (Obligatory rant.)
I do notice a few platforms which have been skipped (notably NeosVR, VirBELA, Vircadia, and Raspberry Dream Land at first glance, but I should probably cross-check the Metaverse Universe map against my own list to find others).
Even better, the Metaverse Universe map and list includes several platforms which I had never heard of before! You know what that means; it’s time for me to go exploring and write up a few more blogposts! HOORAY!!!!
You can check out Metaversed’ Metaverse Directory list and accompanying Metaverse Universe infographic here (on their website the company states, “Contact us for high-res versions”, which I will certainly do! I will also be adding a link to this list to my own list (Welcome to the Metaverse: A Comprehensive List of Social VR/AR Platforms and Virtual Worlds), which, as I stated up top, is desperately in need of some reorganization and recategorization (my task over the next couple of months!).
I’m just so excited to discover that other people are interested in the taxonomy of the metaverse, and are working to create good maps of the territory! My wish and hope is that all of our individual efforts inspire each other’s work, and push each of us to make even better maps of the ever-evolving, ever-expanding metaverse.