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Meta, Microsoft, Epic and more collaborate on new metaverse open standards

Tech industry giants agree to collaborate on standards for a better, single, unified metaverse

It’s the big one. After years of dancing around the issue it seems that, from today, some of the biggest names in the future of ‘the metaverse’ are making some kind of strides towards making this whole thing hang together…

Meta, Epic, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Unity, Huawei, Sony and more are collaborating on metaverse tech that all companies are going to share.

It’s the kind of collaboration that made TV possible… Gave us CDs and DVDs… Created mobile phone networks and – perhaps above all – delivered the internet. (Worth noting that the World Wide Web Consortium are on the new standard’s list of members too.)

It’s all very well and good talking about how great your metaverse is going to be (or perhaps how wonderful it is already) but if there’s a single company at the controls (with the vision of one set of devs and one profit-hungry sales department) then there’s a genuine risk that anyone venturing inside could soon start to feel a little trapped.

An end to all that

It’s been a problem that’s been staring us all in the face; you could be the biggest metaverse fan in the world but there’s always going to come a point where checking into one metaverse for your work (meetings, collaborations, sharing) and another, better-equipped, ‘fun’ metaverse (for social, concerts, experiences) and a THIRD for doing the ‘real’ stuff (shopping, banking, schooling) is going to start to wear thin.

And as for wearing the Prada NFT shirt you bought alongside the Adidas kicks you picked up in The Sandbox? Nope. And needing one VR headset for one task and a whole other set of ‘gear’ for something (somewhere?) else?… Forget it.

With so many new metaverses springing up as no big tech company wants to miss the bus, the choice, confusion and fragmentation of ‘the metaverse’ only seemed set to worsen. And all this before the metaverse has really even ‘happened’ for most people.

That – potentially – changes today

Meta’s Nick Clegg recently (surprisingly) proclaimed that the future of the metaverse is collaboration and that “There won’t be a Meta-run metaverse, just as there isn’t a ‘Microsoft internet’ or ‘Google internet’ today.”, indicating the first glimmers of a desire for the famously sticky, ‘grab all’ company to relax a little and reach out to friends in pursuit of a common good. 

Perhaps he was jumping the gun a little, as today Meta is part of the newly announced Metaverse Standards Forum; a standards group just the same as those that helped build the tech that’s all around us today, intent on sharing knowledge that might just get the metaverse done.

The group is open to any company at zero cost and aims “to accelerate the testing and adoption of metaverse standards, while also developing consistent terminology and deployment guidelines.” (i.e. All the boring stuff that was holding everything back.) And the founding members list features plenty of BIG names.

This is great news

The statement reads: “Multiple industry leaders have stated that the potential of the metaverse will be best realized if it is built on a foundation of open standards. Building an open and inclusive metaverse at pervasive scale will demand a constellation of open interoperability standards.”

It’s welcome news not only because it’s highly likely that this will lead to a more seamless, integrated single metaverse at the end of the day (just as with the single, unified World Wide Web) but, through the open nature of the group where findings are shared to the group for non-profit, things could start to move a whole lot faster.

Somewhere in that group of early adopters (full list below) a small, genius, under-funded company just got access to a whole load of Microsoft, Meta, Epic and NVIDIA work for free…

It’s an impressive list and the volume of gushing comments for CEO’s is too long to list here (read the official announcement in full here).

So who’s not playing ball?

Which just begs the question, who ISN’T on the list? Roblox? Nope. Animoca Brands and The Sandbox? Nope. Decentraland. Nope. Lockwood Publishing and Avakin Life? Nope. Niantic? Nope. Linden Lab and Second Life? Nope. It looks like these early, first-movers are – for now at least – hanging onto the kingdoms they’ve created.

Fortnight isn’t mentioned directly in the announcement but Epic ARE on the list, with specific reference to Unreal Engine. Epic’s vice president of Unreal Engine ecosystem, Marc Petit, says “Our goal is to build an open metaverse that enriches humanity and is home to a thriving, fair ecosystem with millions of creators.”

Which, perhaps, just leaves out Apple and Google… Famous for their walled garden and yet to play their hand in the AR/VR game, only time will tell which side of the fence Apple will come down on. And Google’s full metaverse plan – beyond working on headset tech – remains conspicuously under wraps.

But for now let’s pop a bottle of Microsoft champagne, pour it into a NVIDIA glass and toast a healthy metaverse future while sat at an IKEA table in a Meta bar overlooking an Epic (Unreal Engine 5) sunset…

The full list of members (so far) are: 

0xSenses, Academy Software Foundation, Adobe, Alibaba, Autodesk, Avataar, Blackshark.ai, CalConnect, Cesium, Daly Realism, Disguise, the Enosema Foundation, Epic Games, the Express Language Foundation, Huawei, IKEA, John Peddie Research, Khronos, Lamina1, Maxon, Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA, OpenAR Cloud, the Open Geospatial Consortium, Otoy, Perey Research and Consulting, Qualcomm Technologies, Ribose, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Spatial Web Foundation, Unity, VerseMaker, Wayfair, the Web3D Consortium, the World Wide Web Consortium, and the XR Association (XRA)

Written By

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the world's biggest entertainment, home and tech media brands. He's reviewed all the greats, interviewed countless big names, and reported on thousands of releases in the fields of video games, music, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors, garden design and more. He’s the ex-Editor of PSM3, GamesMaster, Future Music and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Computer Music and more. He renovates property and writes fun things for great websites.

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