It’s dead calm in the metaverse, this term popularized by Meta (earlier Facebook) which refers to a virtual world where users can meet their friends, play games or even work using an avatar of themselves. However, Mark Zuckerberg had announced during the presentation conference of his metaverse HorizonWorld in October 2021 be “ convinced that the metaverse will succeed the mobile internet. We will be able to feel present as if we were physically together, no matter how far apart we are. »
Even the McKinsey firm estimated in June that the metaverse market could represent 4,000 to 5,000 billion dollars by 2030. But at the moment, the term metaverse rhymes more with flop than revolution. Meta is its sad symbol. After investing more than $20 billion in two years into its metaverse project, only 200,000 people a month would spend HorizonWorld, according to information disclosed by The Wall Street Journal.
Metaverse and cryptocurrencies, a mix that is still not convincing
As for the other metaverse attempts, the success is not obvious either. To distinguish, Decentralized country and The sandbox, two virtual universes had the idea to connect the virtual world and cryptocurrencies and thus attract cryptophiles. Apart from these two spaces, the decentralized metaverses, which allow users to exchange these digital assets thanks to a blockchain, a network of computers that validates and records transactions, fail to convince.
But according to the European Central Bank, up to 10% of households could own cryptocurrencies”, when they would be 12% of Americans to hold cryptos according to the US Federal Reserve. “ The metaverse is the convergence of the physical and the virtual, that is, possessing objects and data in our daily lives and finding them online. This is something that could be possible with crypto and blockchain technology.”, presents Julien Maltodazo, partner at Deloitte with responsibility for innovation. NFTs or non-fungible tokens, proof of ownership registered on a blockchain, make it possible, for example, to buy a pair of sneakers in a physical store and to wear their digital version in a virtual world.
Despite these potential uses, The sandbox reported just 203,000 monthly users in a tweet on October 10, when the competitor Decentralized country shows just 56,697 visitors per month in a tweet on October 7, far from the 50 million users per day proclaimed by Roblox a game that allows everyone to interact in a virtual world. And to make matters worse for their lack of popularity, they have to share the thin slice of the metaverse with other small virtual worlds such as Catchment area Where Alien worlds.
Even the French composer Jean-Michel Jarre wants to create his own virtual universe Oxyville, to organize a concert there in October 2023. So many actors and different and varied goals that blur the vision of what a metaverse is for the general public. According to a barometer by the Iligo agency published in April 2022, a virtual world would be seen as having no interest for 62% of the French. “A metaverse will be able to stand out as long as they find users and keep them”, warns Nicolas Perrier, consultant at Inetum. The specialist in metaverse topics believes that a virtual universe must above all be intuitive and beautiful in order to create a community. “Sandbox and Meta forgot the end users and the fun and interesting side of spending time in this metaverse. At the moment it is not beautiful, not easy to use, and therefore few people want to go there »he regrets.
Multiverse, a solution to democratize virtual worlds?
Another possible economic model, in the absence of being able to create a metaverse on its own, offers companies to develop a virtual world on behalf of a client, all on a blockchain. It is a proposal from MultiverseX, earlier Elrond, who changed his name to relocate himself. “The MultiversX team has announced that it will work on a blockchain that is capable of a very large number of transactions and that will allow everyone to create their own metaverse. So potentially beautiful and interesting worlds that could accommodate many internet users who can easily travel between these worlds”says Owen Simonin, alias hashesFrench influencer and ambassador for MultiverseX. An ambitious project, which is only in its infancy, however, as it will perform its first test on December 10 by creating a virtual world that is supposed to be able to accommodate 10,000 users simultaneously.
“It is difficult to know whether this project will be a success. Better interoperability between worlds and developing technologies that are easy to use for the general public may not be enough to separate a blockchain from the rest. There are currently around thirty blockchains in competition with Ethereum, including MultiversX, which is only number nineteen and in the medium term there will only be 3 or 4 left. », nuance Stanislas Barthelemi, crypto consultant at KPMG, who believes that the new MultiversX project is mainly created to attract new customers.
To always be sure that the metaverses are evolving, other players in the sector created Open Metaverse Alliance the beginning of November on the occasion of the show WebSummit of Lisbon. Metametaverse, Alien Worlds and even Animaco Brand, the creators of the sandbox, participated in the creation of this association, which aims to structure and promote decentralized metaverses with European regulators.
Because if Europe starts to regulate cryptocurrencies and their uses with the recent vote on the regulation Crypto asset market (Glimmer) and The regulation on the transfer of funds (TFR), metaverses and their uses do not yet enter their fields.
In fact, everything will be played on the regulation of the sector by governments, which the bosses of these young shots have understood. Like MultiverseX, which during the days dedicated to the presentation of the project in Paris invited Minister delegate for the digital transition Jean-Noël Barrot and his Romanian colleague Sebastian Burduja to participate in it. “If Elrond held his conference in France, it is because the majority of the community in this project is French. But more generally, France is interesting for companies because it has a very strict legal framework. So when you are regulated in France, it very easy to be regulated elsewhere,” justifies Owen Simonin.
In other words, the creators of virtual worlds combined with cryptocurrencies will have to deal with the authorities, but also with public opinion, which recently witnessed the collapse of the former rising star, the FTX crypto trading platform. A case that caused the price of bitcoin of 20% between November 7 and 11 and brought Gary Gensler, the president of Security and Exchange Commission (DRY), the US financial markets policeman, has called for stronger regulation of on-chain cryptocurrencies CNBC. A hurricane on the crypto ecosystem that could well delay, see bury, the rise of decentralized metaverses.