all about this virtual universe that attracts technology giants

What is the meta-verse?

The metaverse (or metaversen in French) refers to an experience in a three-dimensional virtual environment where it is possible to evolve through an avatar or a hologram. This alternative reality makes it possible to discuss with other people, but also to learn, to work or to play. Metaverset uses augmented reality (AR) as well as virtual reality (VR) to create a collective universe. Thanks to these advanced techniques, metaverset uses the rules of verbal and non-verbal communication that are similar to reality: gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice …

From a historical point of view, the term “metavers” first appeared in 1992, in the novel “Virtual samurai”, written by Neal Stephenson. The world described there throws us into a science fiction universe that could be closer to our future reality.

Metaverset, a source of inspiration in the cultural world

Books, movies, video games … The virtual world inspires in several cultural sectors. On the cinema side, of course, one thinks of the Matrix’s dystopian universe or, more recently, Steven Spielberg’s film Ready Player One.

At the same time, it is the video game giants who are investing heavily in this parallel world. During the health crisis, games like Fortnite, Roblox or Animal Crossing – all offering metavers – saw their number of players explode. For example, in May 2020, Fortnite had 350 million registered players. Even stronger, Battle Royale mode accumulated 3.2 billion hours of play in April 2020, during the first incarceration.

When the metaverse becomes a lucrative space

Who says new community space, says new business opportunities for brands seeking visibility. If it seems that we are witnessing the beginning of the meta-verse, the most creative companies have already been able to seize the opportunities it offers: virtual events, partnerships, product placements, virtual shopping … the possibilities are endless . Here are some examples of branding and commercial actions performed by brands:

  • Fortnite and Travis Scott, with the organization and broadcast of a live concert in the video game. In total, more than 12 million players attended the live event when it aired for the first time on April 23, 2020.

  • Roblox and Gucci, with the creation of a time-limited virtual exhibition space along with the physical Gucci Garden event. The luxury brand, which had decided to market its products in virtual format for the occasion, managed the piece to sell a virtual bag more expensive ($ 4,115) than its physical version (sold in stores for $ 3,500).
  • The creation of virtual influencers on social networks, such as Lil Miquela, a virtual personality who has 3 million subscribers on Instagram. Brands like Calvin Klein, Samsung, Prada and even Spotify have already partnered with the influencer. According to OnBuy, a sponsored posting on Lil Miquela’s profile would cost £ 6,550.

Of course, the connection is easy between the metaverse and the NFTs, which provide access to unique digital ownership titles. For example, the decentralized fund dedicated to NFTs BlackPool acquired the land where the Eiffel Tower is built in the metaverse over reality, for $ 105,000.

Metaverset therefore offers several options for brands. On the other hand, it is important to distinguish between the consumer and the avatar he has created for himself. In fact, users imagine a character in their character as they change the details of their choices. Marketing actions are therefore aimed at fictitious representations, and it becomes difficult to imagine personae that are as close as possible to the reality of the end consumers. Cathy Hackl, Metaverse strategist and lecturer specializing in augmented reality, even talks about a new customer relationship: Direct-to-Avatar (D2A).

Can the meta-verse change the rules of our society?

In addition to the video game world, the meta-verse seems to be deeply rooted in society. It seems that the various confinements have accelerated the digitization process in everyday life (aperitifs and virtual games with friends, live concerts on social networks, series to watch at the same time, etc.), but also in companies.

Thus, in 2014, Facebook bought the company specializing in virtual reality Oculus VR for $ 2 billion (a profitable investment when we know that Mark Zuckerberg had paid $ 14 billion for WhatsApp). Then, in 2020, Facebook launched Horizon, a social network with virtual reality and multiplayer powered by the Oculus VR headset. Following the entertainment, the Facebook group is now taking on the world of work with the Oculus Horizon Workrooms project, which proposes using a metaverse to allow employees to meet virtually in a meeting room, as shown in the video below.

To go even further, Mark Zuckerberg now employs 10,000 people to work with virtual reality and augmented reality. In an interview conducted by The Verge, the entrepreneur said he considers the meta-verse as “an incarnated internet where instead of just looking at the content you are in it”. The race to conquer the meta-verse has therefore started, and Facebook has the attention to come first:

I think over the next 5 years, in the next chapter of our business, we will go from people primarily seeing us as a social media company to being a metaverse company, ”said Mark Zuckerberg.

On September 27, Facebook also announced a $ 50 million investment to ensure that the meta-verse is built responsibly in collaboration with global experts, consumer associations and policy makers.

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