Metaverses, multiverses or metaverses, depending on the names, are all-digital virtual universes connected to the real world. Natural evolution of social networks, network games of the Internet and more generally of the digitization of society, their main role is to facilitate the interaction between people in the personal and professional sphere, with acceleration related to disabilities due to the pandemic of recent years. It is possible to participate in the same activities as in the real world or to devise new practices there. Popularized about twenty years ago through engines like Second Life, these virtual worlds are now back on the scene, fueled by numerous technological advances and the development of new applications. The explosion of cryptocurrencies and NFTs (Non fungible tokens), based on blockchain technologies, has also largely contributed to this.
NFTs turn the heads of luxury giants
And for good reason. In a matter of months, metaverses have generated a real buzz for brands, such as the Gucci Garden experience, from the Kering group, which took place in the Roblox metaverse in May 2021 and attracted nearly 20 million visitors. Huge virtual concerts have also taken place, such as that of rapper Travis Scott, who has racked up more than 45.8 million views. These figures explain why technology players see their projects valued in billions of euros.
Investments of tens of billions have been announced, including by Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Epic Games, Baidu and many others. Their goal is clear: to quickly position themselves against the magnitude of the phenomenon and not miss out on these ‘promised countries’. Because right now there are thousands of metaverse initiatives swarming the planet.
What is the metaverse, the concept in which Facebook invests billions?
Abundance of ideas and creativity
Some are based on the “gamification” of social interactions, others on a profound change in professional practices around virtual offices, multifunctional meeting rooms… Industry heavyweights have positioned themselves to develop training programs there, while others focus on designing new products and services. Metaverses become a natural extension of the digital twin and multiply the prospects, for example by providing new approaches to optimize or control industrial processes (cf. BMW’s experience with Nvidia’s Omniverse). Professions evolve to cope with the great need for manpower, for example in the modeling of virtual spaces or the interaction between metaverses. E-commerce players are interested in better understanding the new purchasing mechanisms that are being introduced, with the particularity of the multiplication of virtual currencies…
Faced with this abundance of ideas, creativity and resources, the presence of different target groups (socio-professional categories, age, etc.) will quickly become an important indicator. Because the great challenge of this new wave is to attract and, above all, retain participants. In this regard, Second Life’s experience has shown that a lack of human presence in interactions can quickly drive audiences away.
And the game has only just begun. As we can see in “The French and the metaverse”, an Ifop survey for Talan published in January 2022, 41% of 18-49 year olds had heard of the metaverse, 63% feared the rise of digital virtual worlds . At the same time, a survey by the agency Wunderman Thomson in July 2021 indicates that the panel of 3,011 Americans, Englishmen and Chinese, the latter are willing to spend an average of $76,000 to buy a digital home in the metaverse. † Perceptions regarding digital differ significantly between countries. And while the French are often reluctant to change, experience has shown that they will be able to jump on the bandwagon to exploit the potential of these developments.
This difference in perception can be an asset and make France a real driving force, especially in terms of the governance of metaverses and their usefulness in society. Because technology must above all be seen in the service of people and taking into account the climate impact of digital technology.
We are fortunate to have major entertainment players such as Vivendi and Ubisoft, innovative technology start-ups, major economic players in their sector, research labs such as Inria, who are often pioneers, and consulting firms recognized consultancies that support economic players in their transformations.
Philippe Cassoulat, Managing Director of the Talan Group
The opinions of experts are published under the sole responsibility of their authors and do not involve the editors of L’Usine Nouvelle in any way.
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