Two boxers fighting in a ring wearing VR headsets

Metaverse Ecosystem Smackdown 2023

Avatar photo By: Kelly Cromwell  /  General

Which open world metaverse will reign supreme (and which one is right for you?)

Metaverse ecosystems are virtual worlds that allow users to interact with each other and engage in a variety of activities. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in metaverse ecosystems, as they offer a new way for people to connect, create, and play.

The Combatants

In this post, we will take a closer look at some of the most popular metaverse ecosystems, including Meta Horizon Worlds, Rec Room, VR Chat, Altspace, Spatial, Engage and Sansa.


altspace VR characters
Credit Microsoft

Altspace is one of the OG virtual reality social platforms that allows users to meet, play games, attend events and more in VR. The platform was launched in 2013 and has grown to millions of monthly active users in the past several years. Although it shut down briefly in 2017 until Microsoft decided to acquire the platform. The world-building ecosystem in Altspace is user-generated, creators can upload templates from Unity, or decorate pre-existing worlds with 3D models rendered in kit form. Users can also create their own events, extensions, games, and experiences.

Sadly, the challenges of moderating content and users in user generated worlds has lead to MS deciding to sunset this fantastic platform in favor of it’s next generation platform currently in production, Microsoft Mesh. Altspace is scheduled to shutdown on Mar 10, 2023.

Altspace was truly unique and captured hundreds of hours of this author’s pandemic socialization budget. Thankfully the community it created is in the process of mobilizing across the other platforms mentioned in this article.

Meta Horizon Worlds

Credit Meta

Meta Horizon Worlds is a virtual reality metaverse that offers users the ability to create, explore, and socialize in a variety of environments. The platform was founded in 2017 and has experienced significant growth in recent years, with a current user base of over 1 million monthly active users. The world-building ecosystem in Meta Horizon Worlds is user-generated, meaning that users can create their own environments and experiences. The platform offers collaborative world building, in game scripting and media support for world builders and is very different in the genre from the platforms that came before it. In-world monetization is also present in the form of virtual currency, which can be used to purchase in-game items and experiences.

This platform is still very much in development. The community is growing and the world building community is starting to produce some really impressive things. Horizon Worlds threatens to dominate in the space eventually, but for now you still need to invest some time into seeing what it can really do.

Note: Horizon Workrooms is an offshoot of this platform, taking the same in-game social experience and moving it to a virtual office/boardroom for collaborative meetings.

Rec Room

Credit Rec Room

Rec Room is another popular metaverse ecosystem that offers users a variety of social and gaming experiences. The platform was launched in 2016 and has grown significantly in recent years, with a current user base of over 15 million registered users. The world-building ecosystem in Rec Room is user-generated, allowing users to create their own games and experiences. In-world monetization is also present in the form of virtual currency and in-game purchases.

This platform does micro-games in VR really well. Paintball is a staple, and there are other games being released every day. The experience often features younger children (Ages 8-14) so be prepared. This reviewer hasn’t quite figured out how to limit interactions with adults.

VR Chat

Credit VR Chat

VR Chat is a social virtual reality platform that allows users to connect with others from around the world in virtual environments. The platform was launched in 2014 and has grown significantly in recent years, with a current user base of over 5 million monthly active users, often featuring 20,000 users of the pc version at any given time. The world-building ecosystem in VR Chat is user-generated, and probably the most established of any of the VR Platforms. With thousands of worlds across the platform, you could visit it every day for a year and never go to the same world twice.

December 2022, saw the roll out of a new feature called “Groups.” This is a game changer for the platform, as you can now join social groups (similar to Discord servers) of like-minded individuals and whenever you create world instances you can limit them to just people in your group. This will be paramount in shaping your in game experience, making it far more favourable than just cruising through the public worlds (you have been warned!).

VR Chat also allows users to choose their own individual avatar, whereas the rest of the platforms limit you to cosmetic choices in a rigid avatar system. There are pros and cons of both, so take it with a grain of salt.

Of all the platforms at the date of publishing, VR Chat is the largest, busiest and also most chaotic, but it’s available on nearly every platform and is currently one of the dominant players in the space.

Engage VR

Credit Engage VR

Engage is another VR platform designed primarily for social interactions with corporate and business applications in mind. With major corporations such as 3M, HTC, KIA, Lenovo and more adopting it, we will watch with anticipation to see how it grows. Engage VR has also established itself in the Education market. It has already been adopted by Stanford University, and other organizations such as Educators in VR have adopted it as their home base. It provides tools for content creation, collaboration, and gaming – making it the perfect destination for both work and play. With its innovative features and intuitive design, Engage is quickly becoming one of the most popular VR platforms available today.

Note: Educators in VR is an open, global, cross-platform community of educators, researchers and trainers exploring and collaborating with and in virtual and augmented reality.


Credit Spatial

Spatial is a virtual reality platform that lets users create and collaborate in virtual spaces. It provides tools for collaboration, socializing, gaming, work meetings and more, making it an ideal solution for individuals and businesses. It has been lauded by experts and users alike as one of the most comprehensive VR platforms available.


Credit Sansar

Sansar is a virtual reality platform that allows users to create and experience immersive, interactive worlds. The platform was launched in 2017 and has grown to 1 million active user in the past 3 years. The world-building ecosystem in Sansar is user-generated, meaning that users can create their own environments and experiences. In-world monetization is also present in the form of virtual currency, which can be used to purchase in-game items and experiences, and also land ownership, allowing creators to monetize through membership fee.

Which VR Platform is Worth Your Time?

Person wearing a VR headset with flashing purple lights behind them

There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing one metaverse ecosystem over another. Some of the key considerations include:

  • Purpose: Each metaverse ecosystem has its own unique focus and offerings. For example, if you are looking for a platform primarily for gaming and socializing, Rec Room and Meta Horizon Worlds might be a better fit than VR Chat or Altspace, which have more of a focus on socializing and communication.
  • Content: Each metaverse ecosystem has a different selection of content, including games, experiences, and events. Some platforms, such as Sansar, are geared more towards content creators, and have more robust tools for creating and monetizing content.
  • Hardware: Some metaverse ecosystems require more powerful hardware to run, while others can run on more modest systems. Make sure that your device meets the recommended specifications before choosing a platform.
  • Community: Each metaverse ecosystem has its own community of users. Some platforms, such as VR Chat, have a large and active community, while others have a smaller, more niche community. It’s important to find a platform that aligns with your interests and has a community that you can engage with.
  • Monetization: Some metaverse ecosystems have more opportunities to monetize your content, such as virtual land ownership, or event ticket sales. This is important if you are looking to monetize your content and make a return on your investment in creating content.
  • Technical limitations: Each platform may have different technical limitations such as size of the world or the number of people that can be present in a space, also the requirement for high-end computer or headset to fully enjoy the experience.

Ultimately, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each metaverse ecosystem and choose the one that best aligns with your goals, interests, and technical capabilities. Some users may choose to participate in multiple metaverse ecosystems, depending on the type of experience they are looking for.

Connect, Create, and Play

Each of these metaverse ecosystems offers unique features and opportunities for users to connect, create, and play. Meta Horizon Worlds and Rec Room are popular for their gaming and social experiences, while VR Chat and Altspace are known for their virtual reality offerings. Sansar offers more robust and flexible content creation options for creators. Each platform also has its own monetization options, but all of them feature virtual currency and in-game purchases. Pros for each of these platforms include a large user base, active communities, and a variety of content and experiences. However, some of the cons include limited monetization options, lack of standardization, and some technical limitations.