Gaming technology firm Improbable is creating the infrastructure underpinning Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs’ metaverse platform Otherside.
Improbable’s CEO Herman Narula seems to have been won over by the rhetoric of Web3, declaring that despite being “quite skeptical” of crypto and digital assets, he now sees it as “the only means to efficiently monetize and share value in a metaverse.”
Speaking at Web Summit, Narula said that, “A metaverse is a network of related experiences, many of which could not live alone." Instead, he said, they “require the possibility of other experiences to exist in the space. And sharing value between those experiences is actually really challenging.”
Citing the example of moving a digital T-shirt between a concert and a sporting match, Narula asked, “How do you keep track of ownership? How do you keep track of which company, which entitlement, which contractual element of currency or payment needs to be resolved?”
Web3, he said, “presents the only plausible near-term solution to being able to manage the economy of the metaverse.”
Battling big tech's metaverse ambitions
Ultimately, he said, he sees the “final, critical piece of the puzzle in building a practical metaverse” lies in understanding how to let disparate groups collaborate to create value.
“We're used to a really outdated, broken model of building web-scale businesses,” he said. “That tyrannical model of a single company owning the user, dominating the space and dictating what happens within a metaverse or within any web platform.”
That isn’t just immoral, he said; it’s bad for business. “If you are the most successful creator of content on a closed platform, like Roblox, or Fortnite, or YouTube, you will never build an IPO-able business,” Narula explained.
No matter how much money that creator makes, “the platform risk of your company being wholly dependent on the whims of another business minimizes the long-term value that you can create in your equity.”
That, he said, represents a “fundamental stumbling block” to creating a metaverse inhabited by a diverse range of businesses.
Narula couldn’t resist a barb at metaverse rival Meta, which has its roots in the legacy world of Big Tech.
Meta, he said, has “pushed the notion that this is about VR; eerie-looking legless avatars moving through office spaces.” That, he said, is a “pretty joyless way of spending the incredible opportunity this represents.”