Matterport vs. Metareal Stage
Which 3D virtual tour platform best fits your needs?
How does Metareal Stage compare to Matterport?
As the Metareal team, this is a question we hear quite often. Either from long-time Matterport users who are looking to switch to something else, or from newcomers to the 3D virtual tour scene who haven’t decided on which platform to use yet.
And the honest answer is: It depends.
Depending on your needs and those of your clients, maybe Metareal Stage is the best 3D virtual tour platform for you. Or maybe it’s Matterport.
To help you decide on whether you should use Matterport or Metareal Stage for your virtual tours, we wrote this comparison article summing up the main differences between the two platforms.
We’ve tried to be as honest and unbiased as possible. And we’ll try to keep this article updated, so this comparison can stay useful through future software updates and business developments.
So let’s get to it!
Before we talk about the differences, let’s first iron out what’s the same between these two platforms.
First, they’re both full 3D virtual tour platforms. That means both Matterport and Metareal have everything you need to make 3D virtual tours: from building them, to designing them, to hosting them, and then to sharing them all over the web and displaying them on different devices.
As for the tours themselves, the quality is about the same. Both platforms let you produce beautiful tours that have 3D navigation, meaning you can actually move inside the tours like you’re walking through them, instead of just clicking through galleries of 360 panoramas.
360 virtual tours vs 3D virtual tours
What’s the difference, and which type should you go with?
Either software will let you add text and images to your tours as well (we call them Labels, Matterport calls them Mattertags).
Besides that, both platforms will let you generate 3D models (or according to Matterport, “Dollhouses”) of your space, as well as floorplans. And you can download these models and floorplans if you want.
Lastly, both will let you see basic analytics of your tour views.
So if your goal is to make eye-catching and immersive 3D virtual tours and models to share with other people online, either option would be a great tool for you.
And now that we have a solid understanding of what’s similar between these two platforms, time to move on to…
What’s different, and which one should you choose?
1. Camera compatibility & Shooting experience
Metareal: With Metareal Stage, you can use just about any digital camera you want. As long as you can take 360 panoramas with it, you can use it to make Metareal tours. That means you can use a 360 camera, or a DSLR with a tripod and a panoramic head, or even a smartphone with a 360 rotator. And no matter which camera you use, you’ll be able to access all the features we have to offer.
This gives you the freedom to make tours with cameras and equipment you already own, and the flexibility to upgrade to any hardware you want.
It’s also easy to check if your shoot is going well, because whatever your photo looks like on your camera display is also what that spot is going to look like in your tour. If you’re not happy with your raw images though, you’re free to post-process your photos (in Photoshop or Lightroom or any photo editing software) before (and even after) uploading them to Metareal.
Our platform also lets you take as few or as many panoramas as you want. So no need to shoot a new photo every few feet. This makes it very easy to sneak in a short photo shoot with your clients, since you won’t have to inconvenience them for more than a few minutes. And you’ll be able to shoot more locations in a day.
To learn more about the benefits of being able to use any camera you want, read this:
Use any camera you want when making 3D virtual tours
If you’re looking for the right software to build your 3D virtual tours, you’ll have your pick of options. There’s…
Matterport: Only a limited number of cameras can be used with Matterport. You can use their own camera, the Leica BLK lidar, a few Ricoh and Insta 360 cameras, and you can also use your iPhone (6s and up).
Not all of these cameras are going to produce equal results though. And we don’t mean in terms of photo quality. If you want to generate floorplans and download your 3D models from their platform, you’ll need to shoot your tours using a Matterport or Lidar camera. Otherwise, you just won’t have access to those features.
Besides being expensive (the MP camera costs $3,395 at the minimum, the Leica even more), the MP and Leica have a notoriously difficult time trying to capture black, shiny, or transparent surfaces. So it can be a struggle to create tours of rooms filled with sunlight, especially for outdoor areas.
And unlike your traditional camera, you won’t really be able to see how your scan will turn out during the shoot. You can see a preview, but it doesn’t really give you the whole picture. You’ll need to wait for Matterport to finish processing your scan first, which can take between a few minutes to a few days. So if you made a mistake, or your scan didn’t process well, you might already have left the site, and you might need to reschedule a shoot all over again.
And because Matterport requires you to shoot a new photo every few feet, each photo shoot can take a long time for your clients.
2. Player performance
Metareal: In terms of tour quality, Metareal tours look just as good as Matterport’s. Our tours are fully 3D, and have the 3D model and floorplan included in the player as standard. They’re interactive, letting your viewers add their own measures and notes while exploring. They’re also accessible and easy to navigate on all devices, whether on mobile, desktop, tablet, or VR.
And when we say VR, we mean real VR. All Metareal tours are fully stereoscopic (meaning they actually look 3D, even if you used a 2D camera) in VR, and can be accessed using any VR headset, whether that’s from Oculus, HTC Vive, or Google Cardboard.
Stereoscopic vs. Monoscopic 360° Video for VR experiences - VRdirect
This is the most efficient and a very inexpensive way to capture 360° video, especially when you combine this type of…
Matterport: Matterport have built a name for themselves because of their fast and picturesque virtual tours. And because they’ve been around for much longer, a lot of people are also more familiar with their interface, so they might find Matterport tours easier to navigate. Matterport tours also look fine in VR.
Matterport tours have a few major drawbacks though. For one, because of their camera requirements, you’ll often run into tours where the spots are packed together, and it feels like you’re only moving an inch every time you step forward. It may be necessary to keep the picture quality good, but it does hinder navigation.
They are also a bit less interactive, because your viewers won’t be able to add their own notes to the tour.
Another possible disadvantage with Matterport is that you can’t see your schematic floorplan while browsing their tours, only a top down view of your model. This prevents viewers from getting clear dimensions of how big your space is, which can be essential information for viewers like prospective buyers or renters.
3. Customization & Branding
Metareal: You can add your own logo to your Metareal tours. More importantly, you can remove our logo from your tours and white-label them.
You can even customize the player skin to fit your brand. If you want to change the button icons, the fonts, and the colors of the player, you can.
That customizability, plus the fact that you can take photos using any camera you want and process them before uploading them to Metareal Stage, gives you the ability to make tours that truly fit any brand you want, and build them in your own style.
Matterport: You can also add your own logo to Matterport tours, but you can’t remove theirs. And you don’t have the option to change the player skin to fit your own branding guide.
All Matterport tours look pretty much the same. The photo quality’s always the same, the navigation, the player UI, etc. Which can be a good thing, as consistent design provides a consistent experience for your viewers.
But if you have a client who wants to truly white-label their tour and change the skin to fit their brand, Matterport won’t be able to provide you that. (Though paying for additional 3rd party tools like WP3D can get you pretty close).
Metareal: We’re the only 3D virtual tour platform that lets you import architectural projects straight from Revit. This makes it possible to create virtual tours of designs that haven’t even been built yet.
As for your tours, you can share them wherever you want, whether that’s on Facebook, your website, or your preferred MLS platform (just add a link to one of your unbranded tours). You can also publish them to Google Street View (even with the free Creator plan).
3D models created with Metareal Stage can be exported into Unity, Blender, Sketchup, or any program that lets you import OBJ or FBX files. Floorplans can also be downloaded as SVG or DXF files, then edited in AutoCAD, InDesign, etc. if you want.
Matterport: You currently can’t import architectural projects into Matterport, though they seem to be exploring the possibility. As for exporting, you can also export OBJ files of your dollhouse, PDF files of your floorplan, and publish your tours to Google Street View, though you’ll have to pay every time you use any of those functions.
An important note about listing sites is that two of them have exclusive partnerships with Matterport, namely their parent company Realtor.com (though only for their US site) and Homes.com. Matterport also has a partnership with Redfin, though it isn’t exclusive and Redfin still allows you to add virtual tours from other platforms.
5. Support & Product Development
Metareal: We’re a small team, but we do our best to respond to support questions as soon as we can, within 24 hours or shorter if possible. All of us pitch in, even our CEO, Gareth Morgan. In fact, you can even book a call with Gareth anytime you need to, whether to get help with learning the software, or to give feedback and suggestions on how we can improve. Just schedule a meeting here.
We know that our business won’t succeed if our customers don’t. We consider them our partners. So we do our best to listen to them and try to understand their needs, and we regularly roll out updates every few weeks to make our platform serve them even better.
Matterport: When sending a support question to Matterport, users report that it can sometimes take up to 2 months to get a response.
If you’d like to learn more about Matterport’s support and business practices, there are plenty of forums and user group threads discussing that topic. We encourage you to check them out for yourself. (The WGAN forum and the MOUG FB group are great resources for this).
6. Ease of use
Metareal: There are two ways to build virtual tours using Metareal Stage, and how easy the software is to use depends on which route you go with. You can either use Do It Yourself, or have them built for you using the Full Service option.
If you choose Full Service, then all you have to do is upload your photos, pay a processing fee, and receive your fully built tour back in about 48 hours (could take shorter or longer, depending on the size of your tour and the processing team’s workload). The whole process is a breeze.
If you choose Do It Yourself though, you’ll need to learn how to reconstruct 3D space using Metareal Stage yourself. It’s quite easy to use, once you get the hang of it, but there is a learning curve. Our users say it takes them about 3 tours before they’re comfortable with the software, and then a few more tours after that before they feel like they’ve mastered it.
It’s a bit like learning Photoshop. Lots to learn at first, and you might need to watch some tutorials to get you started. But it gets easier the more you use it.
Matterport: The hardest part to learn when making tours with Matterport is how to properly use their camera.
You’ll need to learn where to place it, what lighting does and doesn’t work, what surfaces won’t register, etc.
Like Metareal, it takes some practice to get good at this process. But once you’re used to it, you’re pretty much working on autopilot. No need to worry about building your tours after either. Matterport will always automatically build your tours for you.
Metareal: If you want to make and share 3D virtual tours without paying a single cent, you can do it with Metareal Stage.
Besides not needing to buy a new camera to start using our platform, we also have an always-free Creator plan. It has enough space to store and host about 10 tours of this size:
The free plan also lets you generate 3D models and floorplans from your tours. You can then publish them to Metareal Tours, or export them to Google Street View. And of course, you can share and embed your tours wherever you want.
All of this makes Creator a great plan for 3D virtual tour newbies, who want to experiment with the technology and build up their business at zero cost.
For medium businesses, Metareal is still very affordable. You might need to upgrade to a paid plan to get access to more storage space and features, but the monthly subscription is quite low. It’s only about Canadian $9.95 for the Professional plan (which gives you enough space for about 50 tours), and CDN $39 for Premium (enough space for about 500 tours). And if you’re planning to build all your tours yourself, that’s all you need to pay.
If you’d like us to build your tours for you though, there’s an additional processing fee per tour. For a free Creator account, it’s about CDN $4 per pano. But the price gets much lower the higher your subscription is. For Premium users, it’s about CDN $2 per pano.
Large businesses can avail of our Enterprise plan, where the price per pano is even lower.
Depending on how many tours you make per month and how valuable your time is, this may or may not be a good deal for you.
Matterport: Matterport also has a free plan, but there’s not much you can do with it.
This plan only lets you build 1 tour, and it doesn’t let you publish or share it with other people. In that sense, it’s not really a usable plan, but more of a free trial for their software.
Their next plan, called Starter, is US $9.99 per month, and gives you enough space for 5 tours and the ability to publish and share them. Depending on how much business you’re doing, it’s possible to outgrow that pretty quickly. Their Free and Starter plans also don’t support the MP and Leica cameras, or floorplan generation and 3D model downloads.
Matterport’s offering for new 3D virtual tour businesses is, in short, a bit lacking.
But what about medium to large businesses?
That depends on whether you’re happy with just the base tour, or whether you need to constantly download the Matterpak and publish to Street View. Because if it’s the latter, then you’ll need to pay an additional US $66.98 - 83.98 per tour, besides their hefty US $69–689 monthly subscription.
So is Metareal Stage or Matterport better?
We hope this comparison helped you reach a decision!
If you noticed that we’ve made any mistakes, or left out important information, go ahead and comment so we can add it to the article.
If you’d also like us to write another comparison article for Metareal vs. other virtual tour platforms, let us know by leaving a comment down below.
Happy tour building!