Christophe Cotin Valois, CEO for Welcome Max
Pioneer in UX in France, Christophe Cotin Valois has always been immersed in the design culture. After starting at IBM E-Business Services, where he mainly worked on the first French portals, Christophe became an independent consultant in the 2000s and became involved in several start-ups, large corporations and consulting firms. Since 2011, Christophe has been the CEO of the Welcome Max agency, a new concept for consulting agency dedicated to experience design.
The meta-verse has been a real trend topic for several months. What do you think are the main reasons for the enthusiasm around this universe?
This craze is a certain fashion effect at the moment because the uses of the metaverse remain unclear. As with augmented reality, the potential for virtual reality seems enormous, but the uses have yet to be discovered. Many will break their teeth and it seems likely that the use will be where it is not expected, as is the case for augmented reality, which today is mainly used in training and industry.
In my opinion, we are in the midst of speculation in the continuity of NFTs. Players can not really find their account there. To the general public, the potential uses are still very “nerdy” … Brands are surfing the buzz to be present in this new paradigm, where the second degree seems to dictate the rules.
What is pushing brands to already launch in the meta-verse? What are the main opportunities they see there?
Currently, the brands are trying to anticipate the topic, to colonize this virgin space: a new Eldorado in short. It is certain that brands need to launch experiments on the topic to find their bearing and choose the right topics, the right platform, the right target audience. For this, they are absolutely right in exploiting the event dimension, conducive to buzz, with one-off productions. For brand utility, we’ll see later.
The possibilities will mainly be to go beyond the limits of reality, to do in the metaverse what we can not really offer in reality, like Amazon or Alibaba, which abolishes the limits of time and space, and who has managed to do what was not possible until now.
The innovations that work are surprising because it is often not the visual rendering that makes the difference, but the benefit gained by the user or players in a market. Neither Google, Facebook nor Amazon are examples of visual creativity. Currently, speculators are trying to create the market. But the brands have to really innovate, because at the moment they are emerging. The virtual museum will probably be the first option for brands like Virtual Gucci Garden. The virtual museum in VR has already been explored by big brands like Dior (via the Monochrome agency). But in terms of experience and interactivity, it’s still quite disappointing from my point of view.
Do you have examples of projects in the meta-verse that brands have recently completed?
There is the construction of Manchester City Stadium; once the right stadium is equipped with cameras, we will probably be able to follow the match there from all angles, as if we were there. But without the atmosphere of the fight, is not the best view the one of the production team who knows how to change shots in the heart of the action to make us live the moment from its best angle without doing anything? In addition to the matches themselves, the visit to the stadium is a holy grail for the fans and they can pay several times to access the virtual.
The commitment is such that Manchester City is turning to Tezos (blockchain) to launch NFT collection projects that should be a hit in the community and may not be expensive. This point is important to create continuity with the use of the mobile in terms of personalization: shells, ringtones, themes and apps are not expensive and allow these audiences to consume, spontaneously, for fun.
As for the metaverse, the second degree also seems recurring, as does the Heineken * campaign and its virtual beer, which also exists in reality. So irony or first degree? We also see that stars like Snoop Dogg know how to play well with this ambivalence to create buzz. Is it the pattern that will emerge? Hard to say, at least we’re talking about it.
* Alcohol abuse is dangerous to your health, intake in moderation.
What are the main obstacles that can prevent brands from getting started with the metaverse?
- Reproduction: At the moment, if you’re not a fan of Minecraft, you’re quickly finding yourself in pretty “cheap” universes that have nothing to envy video games. Although the web offers beautiful 3D renderings, the metaverse will be another budget vertical to be completed by the media. And the bill will be “salty” because we combine digital challenges: visibility, creation, technical constraints, UX, e-commerce … In short, a big challenge for organizations.
- Availability and interoperability: today, surfing the web with our devices is already a world war where Google, Apple, Meta, etc. are trying to keep their users trapped with a proprietary UX. Login, currencies, payment platforms, contact lists, avatars, article storage and chats, locks audiences. Switching from one device to another can be an obstacle course. So wait until you need to connect while wearing a bulky (and uncomfortable?) Headset. This therefore raises the question of interoperability: will the Gucci bag sold more expensive than the real one on Roblox be compatible with the Meta world? I hope so for the owner.
What are the elements that can hinder the experiences they will offer there?
Will brands that want to offer a strong experience to their customers have the budget to flourish in the metaverse? In the same way that Facebook’s chatbots remain very limited in terms of service, will the platforms then offer us tools or templates of 3D-modeled sites that we can customize?
Do the brands want to find themselves again in a standardized world, or will the network be open and therefore compatible with the technical standards that make it possible to “run” experiences designed elsewhere? It would then be a kind of immersive shopping mall. But this is still a technological challenge. In terms of futures research, Luc Besson’s film Valerian gives us an idea of what it might look like: It was one of the greatest productions of all time, and yet a commercial flop.