The term metaverse is used today inconsistently for plural and sometimes very distant uses. JDN offers a typology for better navigation.
Originally, when metaverse was first thrown into the vocabulary in the novel Snow Crash, metaverse meant an infrastructure that hosted interconnected dimensions. Today we have to deal with metaverses, a multitude of representations of this concept of immersive environment.
A fun immersion above all
One of the main uses of a metaverse is for entertainment. A use case created by games and interactive platforms: from Second Life in 2002, web surfers wander through connected virtual worlds for fun. If this pioneer of the metaverse still exists, frequented by around 600,000 monthly active users (MAU), these Roblox, Minecraft and Fortnite which today takes the lion’s share by accumulating more than 250 million users worldwide.
Once the most popular platform (estimated 93 million MAUs), Minecraft is a platform of virtual worlds, made of blocks partially assembled by the players themselves. A principle similar to Roblox, now the leader of this segment (100 million MAU) and especially used in multiplayer mode. Another big player, Fortnite, has around 80 million monthly active users for its Battle Royales.
However, if these platforms are above all play areas, today they take the qualification of metaverse as theaters with new experiences designed by brands and artists: Nike, Givenchy, Gucci, H&M or Walmart, in turn, have invested in Roblox since 2021; after banning brands in 2016, Minecraft is now opening its arms to them, as illustrated by collaborations with Burberry, Lacoste and Uniqlo; on the Fortnite side we saw concerts by Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, a twin from the Cannes festival in collaboration with Brut media or a collaboration with the Balenciaga brand. So many activations that give these platforms a new social dimension. You can even take part in stand-up: that’s the specialty of the Failed to Render Comedy Club, which takes place at Horizon worlds Where VR Chat.
Combining games and interactions is also the goal of Web3 metaverses: The sandbox, Decentralized country, Voxels, Somnia… The latter stand out for their desire to better redistribute the value generated by content created by users. The latter are able to acquire full ownership of their digital assets – accessories, avatars, land – and monetize them by collecting the majority of their earnings, unlike the practice of Web2 counterparts, whose transaction fees can reach 70%. If these more decentralized platforms are still far from attracting so many users (The Sandbox, the most popular, claims 200,000 monthly active users for its 3 alpha season), they are not overlooked by brands and artists: Gucci , Playboy, Snoop Dogg , Smurfs and even Paris Hilton took over the virtual grounds of The Sandbox, while Heineken, Samsung, Nike and Starbucks did the same in Decentraland. Those who do not want to go to shopping centers will appreciate the opportunity to see or participate in social movements, such as this demonstration of the Superflus foundation in front of Samsung’s virtual premises in Decentraland, an initiative reminiscent of the 1,850 avatars who protested at IBM headquarters in Second Life in 2007.
A metaverse is not necessarily a long-term infrastructure: isolated 3D immersive environments with a limited lifespan are often created for events, such as concerts produced by the French company Vroom with Jean-Michel Jarre, or for commercial operations, especially shopping: Dior Beauty, Estée Lauder, Fendi or Jo Malone have in turn offered their customers this type of 360° interactive dimensions with mini-games, AR product testing or presentation. Creations including the French startup METAV.RS or the agency Cosmic shelter has made a specialty.
At work in the metaverse
The Metaverse concept also finds application in business: meetings, training and courses are now activities that have their place in virtual worlds. There are several infrastructures for companies that want to create their virtual experience, such as Spatial.io (free or paid for capacities over 50 people) which offer realistic virtual worlds such as offices, auditoriums or other reception areas; in France, the company Virtue designs precisely tailored platforms, adopted by groups such as PSA, Axa, Vinci or local communities for the virtualization of territory for the purpose of tourism support. The Côte d’Azur company is one of the pioneers in the sector, born in 2012 under the name Groupe VIP 360.
The education sector is not to be surpassed and constitutes another of the applications of the metaverse, as illustrated by the experience of the Technological University of Monterrey or that of San Diego, which have thus created their virtual campus with the solution Swirl. It is also on Virbela’s technology that the real estate agent eXp Realty, which has a subsidiary in France, relies on its metaverse platform. Today, the company no longer has a physical office and has gone completely paperless: its independent advisors connect to the platform for meetings or immersive presentations.
Only for meetings, Meta also offers its solution Work spacesomewhat derided for its childish graphics and competing with the solution launched by Cevat Yerli (founder of the video game studio Crytek), SPACE 3D. This is placed on an offer of environments designed to reproduce a sense of reality, such as a Parisian cafedirectly via the web browser.
The digital twins
The industrial sector is already benefiting from the contribution of these technologies, especially through the emergence of digital twins, a term synonymous with a virtual copy of an existing infrastructure or an existing tool. In particular, the Renault Group presented in October 2022 its own industrial metaverse solution, which digitally reproduces connected equipment in its supply chain and aggregates the collected data. At the same time, these modeled production units can be used for other purposes, such as training employees in virtual simulation.
Real estate is not left out: the solution THE CABLE of BNP Paribas offers to immerse oneself in a digital copy of the city, supplemented by public data (past real estate transactions, available real estate, urban development projects). Still under way, but already launched by a pre-sale of tokens of more than 6 million euros, the project Versatility des Agences de Papa plans to bring the classic real estate business into the metaverse.
In the healthcare sector, the company GigXR has developed immersive training environments (Holopatient) or a digital twin of the human body for anatomy (Holohuman), ideal applications for experimentation and research.