No Match Found
by Jeremy Dalton
Around the world, companies and investors are getting to work in the metaverse. PwC’s Metaverse Deals Tracker, a component of the Global Entertainment & Media Outlook, is an ongoing study of the deals, investments, partnerships and product launches made in relation to the platform. The tracker’s field of play includes any multiuser virtual worlds, as well as associated technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) single-user applications, crypto, and non-fungible token (NFT) propositions.
In recent years, there’s been a huge amount of hype, projections and, sometimes, cynicism surrounding the metaverse. So, at PwC, we’ve been at work trying to demystify the metaverse. One of the keys to understanding the shape of the emerging new industry is to follow the commercial activity it attracts. Dollars can speak louder than words, and investments indicate where the new technology is gaining traction, what sectors are receiving the most investment, and which sectors are developing.
Since February 2020, we’ve logged:
Digging into the data further reveals some key initial insights about what’s going on in the metaverse.
Though Meta Platforms, formerly known as Facebook, has garnered the most press with its large investments, there’s a broad range of players investing in the metaverse. To date, we’ve identified 127 different entities, ranging from start-ups like Affyn, a Singapore-based company with a play-to-earn model, to well-established companies such as Sony.
In the past three years, Meta has had more than twice the number of activities as the two companies tied for the next highest: Epic Games and Roblox (see ‘Frequent investors’). The remainder of the top ten includes a few large organisations such as Alibaba, Microsoft and Snap. That’s to be expected, given the resources these firms have to drive such activity.
But when it comes to technology and communications, innovation in the next platforms has historically come from outsiders, upstarts and new entrants—not from incumbents. And so, we also see smaller organisations, including Varjo, a Finnish high-end VR hardware manufacturer; DressX, a digital-only fashion house; and Decentraland, an increasingly well-known decentralised metaverse platform that just squeezed into the top ten.
Approximately 50% of metaverse activity is in North America, and Asia Pacific accounts for about an additional 27%. The third-place share is halved again, with Western Europe at 14%, and the remainder is split between other geographies.
This pattern aligns with the economic impact analysis of VR and AR technologies we conducted in our Seeing is believing report, which showed North America and East Asia to be key regions. It also tracks with the findings in PwC’s most recent Global Consumer Insights Survey, which placed India, Indonesia, the US and Vietnam among the countries with the highest percentages of consumers saying they had experienced the metaverse in the previous six months.
The most significant type of activity concerns product announcements, which account for nearly half (49%) of new developments recorded by the tracker. Partnerships (15%) are next, followed by acquisitions (12%).
Though many of the product announcements and acquisitions centre on entertainment and other business-to-consumer activity, the reality of the metaverse is that it’s a set of digital platforms that is appealing to businesses. Several companies are making investments and introducing products that help other businesses function more effectively. These include Apple’s 2020 acquisition of Spaces, which makes VR software for conferencing, Epson’s introduction of Moverio AR smart glasses and Nvidia’s rollout of digital twinning tools.
We’ve thus far focused on the actions of individual companies, and though many individual companies have staked their future on the metaverse, it’s clear that the metaverse won’t be built by a single player or by companies working in silos. Rather, companies and organisations large and small are teaming up and investing to bring new products and concepts to the market. The city of Milan, Italy, invested in Reasoned Art, the first Italian gallery dedicated to crypto art. Game developer XR Games announced the receipt of approximately US$7 million (£5.9 million) in funding from Media Ventures, Praetura Ventures and Maven, which it will use to expand its studio. And collectID received US$3.5 million in funding from SeventySix Capital, Hellen’s Rock Capital and SBI-Sygnum-Azimut DAO Fund to help improve its clothing and accessories metaverse platform.
As mentioned above, there’s no shortage of hype—and scepticism—surrounding the metaverse. But despite significant volatility in the capital markets, the pace of investments in new products and capacity has been remarkably consistent. This is an industry that is maturing and expanding in front of our eyes.
Jeremy Dalton is head of metaverse technologies for PwC. Based in Austin, Texas, he is a director with PwC US. He is the author of Reality Check: How Immersive Technologies Can Transform Your Business.
Building trust and delivering value in the next digital world with PwC’s metaverse services.
Five-year projections of consumer and advertiser spending data across 14 segments and 52 territories.