Metaverses, multiverses or metaverses, depending on the names, are entirely digital virtual universes connected to the real world. Natural evolution of social networks, network games of 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 linked to restrictions due to the pandemic of 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 such as Second Life, these virtual worlds are now back on the scene, fueled by numerous technological advances and the development of new uses. The explosion of cryptocurrencies and NFTs (Non fungible tokens), based on blockchain technologies, has also largely contributed to this.
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And for good reason. In a few months, metaverses have generated 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. Giant virtual concerts have also taken place, such as that of rapper Travis Scott, which has recorded 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 objective is clear: to position themselves quickly in the face of the scale of the phenomenon and not to miss these “promised lands”. Because at present, several thousand metaverse initiatives are swarming across the planet.
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Profusion of ideas and creativity
Some are based on the “gamification” of social interactions, others on a profound change in professional practices around virtual offices, multifunction meeting rooms… Industry heavyweights have positioned themselves to develop training programs there. while others apply themselves to designing new products and services. Metaverses are becoming a natural extension of the digital twin and multiplying its prospects, for example by offering new approaches to optimizing or controlling industrial processes (cf. BMW’s experience with Nvidia’s Omniverse). Professions evolve to cope with the considerable need for manpower, for example, in the modeling of virtual spaces or the interaction between metaverses. E-commerce players are interested in it to better understand the new purchasing mechanisms that are being put in place, with the particularity of the multiplication of virtual currencies…
Faced with this profusion of ideas, creativity and means, the presence of different audiences (socio-professional categories, age, etc.) will quickly become a key indicator. Because the major 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 a 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 poll for Talan published in January 2022, 41% of 18-49 year olds had heard of the metaverse, 63% had a fear vis-à-vis the emergence of digital virtual worlds. In parallel, a survey conducted by the agency Wunderman Thomson, in July 2021, indicates that out of the panel of 3,011 Americans, English and Chinese, the latter are ready to spend an average of 76,000 dollars to buy 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 in order to exploit the potential of these developments.
This difference in perception can be an asset and make France a real driving force, particularly on the question of the governance of metaverses and their usefulness in society. Because technology must be seen above all in the service of humans 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 recognized consulting firms that support economic players in their transformations.
Philippe Cassoulat, managing director of the Talan group
Expert opinions are published under the full responsibility of their authors and in no way engage the editorial staff of L’Usine Nouvelle.
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