while France hesitates, the world moves!

Metaverses, multiverses, or metaverses, depending on the names, are entirely digital virtual universes connected to the real world. Natural development of social networks, network games 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. These virtual worlds, which became popular around twenty years ago through engines like Second Life, are now coming back to the fore, 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.

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promised lands

And with good reason. In a few months, metaverses have 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 almost 20 million visitors. Huge virtual concerts have also taken place, like rapper Travis Scott’s, which has recorded more than 45.8 million views. These figures explain why technology players see their projects valued in the billions of euros.

Investments of tens of billions have been announced, among others 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”. Because right now, several thousand metaverse initiatives are swarming across the planet.

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Abundance 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… Industry heavyweights have positioned themselves to develop training programs there. while others apply themselves to designing new products and services. Metaverses become a natural extension of the digital twin and multiply its possibilities, for example by offering new approaches to the optimization or control of industrial processes (cf. BMW’s experience with Nvidia’s Omniverse). Professions are evolving to cope with the significant need for manpower, for example in modeling virtual spaces or the interaction between metaverses. E-commerce actors are interested in it in order to better understand the new purchase 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 a key indicator. Because the big challenges of this new wave are attracting participants and, above all, retaining them. In this regard, Second Life’s experience has shown that a lack of human presence in interactions can quickly drive away audiences.

French fear

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 in relation to the emergence of digital virtual worlds. In parallel, a survey conducted by the agency Wunderman Thomson in July 2021 shows that out of the panel of 3,011 Americans, English and Chinese, the latter is ready to spend an average of 76,000 dollars to buy a digital house in the metaverse. ! The perception of digital varies 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 in perception can be an asset and make France a real driving force, especially in the matter of the management of metaverses and their utility in society. Because the 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, which are often pioneers, and consulting firms renowned consulting firms that support economic 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 editors of L’Usine Nouvelle.

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