Do you think the Metaverse already exists?

Exactly 20 years ago, I was getting ready, without knowing it, to contribute modestly to 2 of the 6 bricks of the Metaverse: I was finishing my studies as a telecom engineer and on March 6, 2001, I was starting my internship at the Australian National University where I was going to explore the frontiers of Virtual Reality which already fascinated me at the time. Since then, my common thread has never ceased to be intimately linked to digital.

A few months ago, I published in Harvard Business Review France an article that detailed the convergence of three ingredients at the heart of the Metaverse.

Since Facebook’s announcements, a lot of ink has been spilled on the subject. The majority of published articles and reports fuel many fantasies. Through a series of articles based on an in-depth study that we conducted on the Metaverse, Arthur D. Little offers you to go beyond fantasies, to help you see better through this technological fog, and so on. help you make the right business decisions!

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This article aims to provide an answer to the question “Does the Metaverse already exist?” To answer this, it is essential to define what we are talking about. We therefore offer you a definition and we would be very happy to know your definition or how you would like to request ours.

In the 90s, Internet users were prisoners of their access provider

When I think of the Internet in the mid-90s, I think of the mythical sound of the 56k modem. I’m also thinking of AOL and its famous “you’ve got mail” (and I’m sure some of you are thinking of the original English version 🙂 ). Once connected to the internet via AOL, it was possible to access a whole host of mysterious things. I particularly remember the “cats” – which I pronounced in French (meow!). Unfortunately this door to the Internet was in fact only a door to a proto-Internet surrounded by impassable walls. A Walled Garden, without walkways to other gardens. An Internet bubble, not connected to other bubbles. Unable to exchange information or communicate with other walled gardens such as Compuserve, Prodigy etc.

Towards the end of the 90s, it became clear that the web browser had to allow communication and exchange of information with any other user, regardless of their Internet Service Provider (ISP), or Internet Service Provider ISP. in English. The uses have got the better of the walled gardens and the internet has become interoperable (to a certain extent).

The Metaverse (of tomorrow) will be at the convergence of a set of proto-metaverses (current) or will not be

The Metaverse is in the same state as the internet in the mid-90s. Today there is not a Metaverse, but a whole set of proto-metaverses. Walled garden Metaverse embryos. The majority of companies, such as Roblox, Epic, Nvidia, Microsoft, Decentraland and Meta, that aspire to develop the Metaverse are actually developing non-interoperable proprietary platforms. This means that it is not possible today to exchange virtual assets or simply to communicate from one platform to another. Until there is interoperability, there will be no Metaverse – and we will not discuss this critical uncertainty in depth in a future article.

However, despite this embryonic state of the Metaverse, it is interesting to look at the definitions and long-term visions that these companies have. Despite the heterogeneity of what they market today (and even the heterogeneity of the industries from which they come) there is a strong convergence:

So how do you define the Metaverse?

First of all you will notice that I use the term “the Metaverse”; and this denotes 2 things. First of all, we use the determiner “the” to underline the fact that to speak about Metaverse, a great interoperability will be necessary to leave the era walled garden / proto-metaverses. Then, just as we use the term Web or Internet in French as in English, we use the English term Metaverse to emphasize the fact that it is the proper name given to this object.

Here is the definition that we submit to you for the Metaverse:

The Metaverse is the future version of the Internet that further blurs the boundaries between reality and virtuality, at the convergence of immersive spaces, social & collaborative experiences, and the creator economy.

“Future version of the Internet” emphasizes the fact that this is a new evolution of the Internet and not a paradigm shift or a particular private platform. “Who further blurs the lines between reality and virtuality” aims to highlight that what we call reality is and will be increasingly augmented by layers of digital information. Furthermore, our definition seeks to underline the fact that the Metaverse is at the heart of a great convergence. So, the future version of the Internet:

  1. Will be spatialized and increasingly immersive, and will take advantage of 3D environments from gaming and simulations and digital models from industry (digital twins etc.).
  2. Will enable more and more social experiences and will increasingly facilitate remote collaborative work.
  3. Will increasingly take advantage of creator economy[1] (user-generated content) and market platforms will increasingly sell physical and digital assets.

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What do you think of this definition? Does it correspond to what we observe around you? Would it apply to your industrial context?

In the next articles, we will deepen the three pillars above and we will present the bricks that make up The Metaverse in order to analyze the obstacles to be overcome to allow the advent of the Metaverse. Finally, we will offer you concrete axes to seize real business opportunities now.

[1] The Creator Economy is an economy facilitated by applications and platforms that allow creators to earn revenue from their creations (virtual and real).

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