With the wide adoption of digital technologies, Metaverse is moving from concept to practice, adding momentum to the development of digital economy. Metaverse is the latest development in the integrated application of digital technologies, which provides a fresh context for value creation and opens a huge space for business model innovation. However, the research on the Metaverse business model is still in its infancy, making the building of field legitimacy a problem. In response, this paper does the following work.
First, this paper defines the concept of Metaverse and the Metaverse business model. (1) It argues that Metaverse is a virtual and real digital world built by digital technologies, which presents the uniqueness different from the traditional Internet form, and provides vast space for new value creation. (2) It argues that the Metaverse business model describes the principles and activity system for developing or utilizing Metaverse technologies to create or reshape the context of virtual and real integration, and carry out the value proposition, value creation and value-capture process with the participation of users.
Second, through analyzing a series of business cases, this paper proposes five primary types of Metaverse business model. It states that the formation of Metaverse business model is driven by both forces of technology and demand. Therefore, based on the two basic dimensions, it divides the Metaverse business model into five categories: supportive Metaverse business model, interactivity-industry Metaverse business model, interactivity-consumption Metaverse business model, connectivity-industry Metaverse business model, and connectivity-consumption Metaverse business model.
Third, this paper puts forward a research framework based on the I-P-O paradigm, and prospects future research directions. The input factors (I) of Metaverse business model include digital technologies and user contexts; the process factors (P) focus on the three dimensions of value proposition, value creation and value capture; and the output factors (O) can be divided into organizational performance and social benefits. We encourage scholars to explore the formation mechanism and internal logic of Metaverse business model, discuss the impact of virtual reality fusion context on the value creation of Metaverse, study the role and position of users in the value creation process of Metaverse, and analyze the “double-edged sword” effect of Metaverse business model.
The contributions of this paper are as follows: First, it clarifies the concept of Metaverse business model, which is helpful to build the legitimacy of the field and facilitate the development of scholarly conversations. Second, it answers the question of how to shape the business model of Metaverse and enriches the business model literature by introducing the technology-demand interaction model into the study of business model. Third, it proposes a theoretical research framework based on the I-P-O paradigm, providing guidance for subsequent studies. Fourth, it is helpful to promote relevant management and entrepreneurship practices.