After understanding the competitive characteristics of the meta universe, we can further discuss the possible monopoly problem in the meta universe. In my opinion, in the context of the meta universe, the following monopolistic behaviors may be noteworthy?
1、 Predatory pricing problem
At present, the development of the meta universe is still at a very early stage. There is no enterprise in hardware and software, and products can gain absolute advantages. In this context, whoever can take the lead in winning enough users will be able to take the initiative in the market, thus excluding potential competitors from the market. In order to rapidly expand the number of users in a short time, low price is a strategy of repeated attempts. The low price of products is often accompanied by predatory pricing.
In reality, Facebook is a loyal fan of the low price strategy. In the fourth quarter of 2020, Facebook belongs to Facebook. Oculus's market share in VR/AR equipment is only 29%, but only one quarter later, its share soared to 74%, and now its share has reached more than 90%. The main reason is the low price. The first generation of Oculus Quest is about $600, which is in the upper middle position in the market. In September 2020, Facebook launched Oculus Quest2. Its performance has greatly improved compared with the previous generation of products, but its price suddenly dropped to $299, even lower than many low-end products. Many third-party organizations believe that it is this "half discount" price reduction of Facebook that makes Facebook suddenly appear in the VR/AR device market and establishes its advantages.
Of course, the low price alone may not be enough to determine whether Facebook's sales in Oculus constitute predatory pricing. Because according to the definition of anti-monopoly, the price of predatory pricing should be lower than the average production cost. From the information we can see now, considering that the cost of the first generation product is about $200, and considering that the configuration of Oculus Quest2 should be higher, the cost should be higher. But it is unclear whether the cost will exceed $299. This is the key to judge whether Facebook has predatory pricing.
2、 Tying problem
Now, in order to increase the attraction of meta cosmic hardware, many enterprises will pre install some software products in their devices. Oculus Quest2 will be pre installed with several models when it is sold, including the Rhythm Lightsaber VR game. It is reported that the reason why Facebook wants to acquire is that it wants to acquire Within, hoping to use its popular product Supernatural as the pre installed product of the popular product Oculus. Although this pre installation behavior can bring users a better purchase experience, there is no doubt that it is also suspected of constituting an anti trust tying behavior. From the perspective of implementation effect, it is likely to affect the sales of games of the same type as the tied games and disrupt the normal competition order.
3、 The issue of "strangle mergers and acquisitions"
As the major digital giants compete to enter the source universe, some small and medium-sized enterprises with good performance and fast growth have become the targets of the giants. By acquiring these small and medium-sized enterprises, the giants can quickly make up for their shortcomings and enhance their strength in the field of the meta universe. For example, Facebook's acquisition of Within is to enhance its competitiveness in the content ecology of the meta universe; Google's competitiveness to the meta universe content ecology; VR startup Raxium was acquired to acquire its MicroLED technology to make up for its shortcomings in the hardware field; Not long ago, Microsoft's acquisition of Blizzard attracted extensive attention from all walks of life, which is also an attempt by Microsoft to strengthen its meta universe content and channels through acquisition. Objectively speaking, for many acquired SMEs, the acquisition strategy of large enterprises is very favorable, and the acquisition of large enterprises is also a good exit channel for many start-ups. However, if we look at the overall market efficiency, similar acquisitions may be made. Therefore, similar acquisitions still need to attract the attention of antitrust authorities.
4、 Vertical limitation problem
This includes refusal of transaction, restriction of transaction, etc. As the competition in the meta universe is between the industrial chain and the industrial chain, the vertical restriction will be very obvious in this process. If an enterprise has mastered the key position of the industrial chain and has the role of "gatekeeper", it will naturally have strong control over its downstream. Specifically, when an enterprise is in an enterprise and VR dominates the head display market, it can decide whether the content products of the Meta Universe can log in to the device, and whether the content products of the Meta Universe can "choose one from the other", requiring them not to log in to multiple hardware platforms at the same time.
5、 Self preferential behavior
As enterprises are likely to enter into different levels of the industrial chain at the same time when they layout the meta universe, it is difficult to avoid self preferential treatment. For example, Facebook not only sells Oculus waiting hardware products, but also provides HorizonWorlds waiting software products. On the platform, there are obviously many harmonious places where HorizonWorlds products compete with each other. In this case, Facebook may increase its competitiveness in products for its own benefit. The entry threshold of some competitive products of HorizonWorlds. For example, it is required to charge higher fees, lower the ranking of the app store, or even directly prevent it from entering the app store. If so, the competition order may be seriously disturbed, and the user's choice may be destroyed.
The sixth category is interoperability or interconnection. Nowadays, many different enterprises and organizations are laying out their own meta cosmic systems, and each meta cosmic system has its own standards and facilities. For example, in different meta universe products, we will introduce our own communication equipment, office equipment and various applications, as well as our own economic system. From the perspective of user convenience, all these are the best cross product exchanges - in fact, this also conforms to the original intention of the meta universe, because the word "meta universe" originally means to span different universes. However, for competitive reasons, the meta universe operators may not choose to do so. This is effective as a competitive strategy. However, it may not only directly damage the welfare of users, but also destroy the competition order.
To sum up, the above possible monopoly problems are not inherent in the meta universe. In fact, in the past platform anti-monopoly and anti-monopoly in other fields, similar problems often occurred. Therefore, they are not enough to be called new monopolies in the meta universe environment, but can only be regarded as new manifestations of old monopolies in the meta universe environment. I think this problem is decentralized monopoly.