What is the “metaverse”?

Metaverse, metaverse, meta-universe or metaverse, we’ve only spoken of this term since Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed it the successor of the Internet. But what is its exact definition?

In October 2021, faced with the accumulation of companies, Facebook changed its name. Mark Zuckerberg’s group announces it will be “Meta” and casually presents its vision for the future. According to him, the 2D Internet, which we surf thanks to a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari), will become extinct. The future of digital will be in 3D, in a virtual world called ‘metaverse’.

Determined to make as much noise as possible to get people talking about his project (and to divert media attention), Meta did everything he could to get the planet talking about the metaverse. A paid gamble: The media around the world have started to present this virtual universe as our future, while startups and big companies, such as Carrefour, have announced that they are working on it. The metaverse, which is still just a fantasy today, has become a subject of everyday life. While most people don’t know what it means.

In August 2022, the metaverse is a collective noun, meaning everything and nothing. While the vision of Mark Zuckerberg and Meta is quite clear, although currently unfeasible, the use of the term in society is rarely appropriate. On paper, there are already thousands of metaverses.

“The” metaverse according to Facebook

To explain what a metaverse is, we will divide our article into two parts. The first is devoted to the vision of Facebook, which envisions a single metaverse that can replace the Internet. The other speaks more generally of the term and applies to existing things.

Meta links its metaverse to reality headsets (virtual, mixed or augmented), even if it is open to other media. // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

How does Meta envision its metaverse, presenting it as a unique virtual world and not as an application? ? For Mark Zuckerberg’s company, the web will soon enter the 3D era. Meta imagines that we will navigate in virtual worlds, which should mimic the real world, thanks to glasses (virtual reality, mixed reality or augmented reality). However, there is one important point to consider: his metaverse is not necessarily linked to glasses. In the company’s view, you can also access it from your smartphone, even if it will be less intuitive.

According to Meta, we find the entire internet in the metaverse. We walk around in the form of an avatar, can join our friends on the other side of the planet, participate in activities with others, work and consume thanks to a virtual currency. The metaverse is a replica of Ready Player One or from Matrix and ideally it will become a standard. Meta hopes all web giants agree to make their ecosystems interoperable. The company wants the services of Google, Microsoft, Apple and others to be accessible in its virtual world, without having to switch applications. A big problem that no one really thinks possible. In August 2022, “the” Facebook-esque metaverse doesn’t exist at all, despite Meta’s investments. No one knows if he will see the light of day.

Horizon Command
Horizon Worlds previews the Facebook version metaverse. // Source: Numerama

Today Meta . offers Horizon Worldsan application that provides insight into its metaverse, which usually looks like a way of video games The Sims. His beginnings are very mixed. Horizon Worlds struggles to convince and doesn’t make you really want to let go of your entire digital life for this virtual world. There are also fewer and fewer users on the platform.

for further

Horizon Worlds // Source: Capture Numerama

“The” metaverses, a very broad concept

In reality, Facebook didn’t invent anything. Mark Zuckerberg’s company has managed to swallow the term “metaverse” to make it their own, but has mostly confused the minds of millions of people. Many now link Facebook, virtual reality and the metaverse, while these three ideas are completely separate. Virtual reality is certainly a technology of the future, but nothing says that Facebook, with its subsidiary Oculus, will continue to be the star of the industry. The existence of the single metaverse concept is not assured. We especially wonder what Apple will do with its headphones in 2023. It’s hard to imagine the company going for the same concepts as Meta, with a virtual world.

In fact, metaverses are old, even if they weren’t called that before. A metaverse is by definition “a virtual world that goes beyond the real world”. Nothing links it to virtual reality or the replacement of the internet, it could perfectly be a video game or an application. Here are some examples of services that fit perfectly into the definition of a metaverse:

  • video games like GTA Online Where Fortnitein which you interact with other players in a virtual world.
  • Old concepts like Second Lifewhere you led a double life with an avatar in a video game.
  • Virtual reality dating apps, like VRChatthat lets you meet people in fake places.
  • Applications to play or have fun with others, in virtual reality or elsewhere, to find yourself in virtual worlds.
for further

Metavers // Source: Louise Audry for Numerama

In fact, all virtual experiences with real people are metavers. Facebook’s dream to create the successor to the Internet in 3D is just a fantasy based on an existing concept. When the media talks about the metaverse, they usually talk about the idea of ​​Facebook. But the term can be quickly misused, especially when startups envision selling lots in a virtual world or when groups like Carrefour organize job interviews on a virtual island. The metaverse means everything and nothing and we can only regret that those who talk about it sometimes forget this distinction.

Leave a Comment