Metavers, multiverses or metavers, depending on the names, are completely digital virtual universes connected to the real world. Natural development of social networks, networking on the Internet and more generally of the digitization of society, their main role is to facilitate interaction between people in the personal and professional sphere, with an acceleration associated with restrictions due to the pandemic in recent years. It is possible to participate in the same activities as in the real world or to invent new practices there. Popularized about twenty years ago through engines like Second Life, these virtual worlds are now back on stage, driven 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 greatly contributed to this.
NFTs turn heads on luxury giants
And with good reason. In a few months, metaverser has created a real enthusiasm for brands, like the Gucci Garden experience, from the Kering group, which took place in May 2021 in the Roblox metaverse and attracted nearly 20 million visitors. Huge virtual concerts have also taken place, such as rapper Travis Scotts, who has counted 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 position themselves quickly in relation to the scale of the phenomenon and not to miss these “promised lands”. For at the moment, several thousand metaverse initiatives are swarming across the planet.
What is the meta-verse, the concept in which Facebook invests billions?
Plenty of ideas and creativity
Some are based on the “gamification” of social interactions, others on a profound change in professional practice around virtual offices, multifunctional meeting rooms … The industry’s heavyweights have positioned themselves to develop training programs there. while others use themselves to design new products and services. Metaverses is becoming a natural extension of the digital twin and multiplies its prospects, for example by offering new approaches to optimizing or managing industrial processes (cf. BMW’s experience with Nvidia’s Omniverse). Professions are evolving to cope with the significant need for labor, for example in modeling virtual spaces or the interplay of metavers. E-commerce players are interested in better understanding the new procurement mechanisms that are being introduced, with the special feature of the multiplication of virtual currencies …
Faced with this abundance of ideas, creativity and means, the presence of different target groups (socio-professional categories, age, etc.) will quickly become a key indicator. For the great challenges of this new wave are to attract participants and above all to retain them. In this regard, Second Life’s experience has shown that 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% had a fear about the emergence of digital virtual worlds. In parallel, a study conducted by the agency Wunderman Thomson in July 2021 shows that out of the panel of 3,011 Americans, Englishmen and Chinese, the latter is ready to spend an average of $ 76,000 on buying a digital house in the metaverse. ! Perceptions related to digital vary considerably between countries. And if 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 this development.
This difference of opinion can be an asset and make France a real driving force, especially in the issue of the management of metavers and their applicability 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 sectors, research laboratories such as Inria, who are often pioneers, and consulting firms recognized consulting firms that support financial players in their transformations.
Philippe Cassoulat, CEO of the Talan Group
Expert opinions are published under the full responsibility of their authors and in no way engage the editorial staff at L’Usine Nouvelle.
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