Christophe Cotin Valois, CEO of Welcome Max
Pioneer of UX in France, Christophe Cotin Valois has always been immersed in the culture of design. After starting at IBM E-Business Services, where he worked in particular on the first French portals, Christophe became an independent consultant in the 2000s and was involved in several start-ups, large groups and consulting firms. Since 2011 Christophe has been CEO of the Welcome Max agency, a new concept of consulting agency dedicated to experience design.
The metaverse has been a real trending topic for several months. In your opinion, what are the main reasons for the enthusiasm around this universe?
This craze is a certain fashion effect for the moment, because uses in the metaverse remain unclear. As with augmented reality, the potential of virtual reality seems enormous, but the uses remain to be discovered. Many will break their teeth and it seems likely that use will be where it is not intended, as is the case with augmented reality which today is mainly used in education and industry.
In my opinion, we are in the midst of speculation about the continuity of NFTs. Players don’t really find their account there. For the general public, the potential uses are still very “geeks” … Brands are navigating the buzz to be present in this new paradigm where the second degree seems to dictate the rules.
What drives brands to launch into the metaverse already? What are the main opportunities they see there?
For the moment, the brands are trying to anticipate the topic, to colonize this virgin space: a new Eldorado in short. It is certain that brands must start experiments on the subject to orient themselves and choose the right subjects, the right platform, the right audience. For this reason they are right to exploit the size of the event, favorable to the buzz, with disposable productions. For the usefulness of the brand, we will see later.
The opportunities will mainly be to go beyond the limits of reality, to do in the metaverse what we cannot really offer in reality, such as Amazon or Alibaba that abolish the boundaries of time and space and that have managed to do what until now they have not. it was possible.
The innovations that work are surprising because it is often not the visual rendering that makes the difference but the advantage obtained by the user or by the players in a market. Neither Google, nor Facebook, nor Amazon are examples of visual creativity. Currently, speculators are trying to create the market. But brands will really have to innovate, because for the moment they are making an appearance. The virtual museum will likely be the first opportunity for brands like the Virtual Gucci Garden. The virtual museum in VR has already been explored by big brands like Dior (via the Monochrome agency). But, in terms of experience and interactivity, it’s still pretty disappointing from my point of view.
Do you have examples of projects in the metaverse recently undertaken by brands?
There is the construction of the Manchester City stadium; once the stadium itself is equipped with cameras, we will probably be able to follow the game from all angles, as if we were there. But, without the atmosphere of the matches, isn’t the best view of the production team who knows how to reverse the shots in the heart of the action to let us experience the moment from its best angle, without doing anything? Beyond the matches themselves, a visit to the stadium is a holy grail for fans, and they can pay multiple times to access virtually.
Such is the commitment that Manchester City is moving closer to Tezos (blockchain) to launch NFT collecting projects that should be a hit in the community and may not be expensive. This point is important to generate a use in continuity with those of mobile in terms of customization: shells, ringtones, themes and apps are not expensive and allow these audiences to consume themselves, spontaneously, for fun.
On the theme of the metaverse, the second degree also seems recurring, like Heineken’s campaign * and his virtual beer that also exists in reality. So irony or first degree? We also see that stars like Snoop Dogg know how to play on this ambivalence to generate buzz. Is this the pattern that will emerge? Difficult to say, in any case we talk about it.
* Alcohol abuse is dangerous to health, consume in moderation.
What are the main obstacles that can prevent brands from embarking on the metaverse?
- Rendering: Currently, if you are not a fan of Minecraft, you quickly find yourself in quite “cheap” universes, which have nothing to envy to video games. Even though the web offers beautiful 3D renders, the metaverse will be another budget vertical that will need to be completed by the media. And the bill will be “high” because we are combining digital challenges: visibility, creation, technical constraints, UX, e-commerce … In short, a great challenge for organizations.
- Accessibility and interoperability: today surfing the web with our devices is already a war of the worlds, where Google, Apple, Meta, etc. try to keep your users captive with a proprietary UX. Logins, currencies, payment platforms, contact lists, avatars, article and chat archives, block audiences. Switching between devices can be an obstacle course. So, wait until you have to connect while wearing a bulky (and uncomfortable?) Headset. The question of interoperability therefore arises: will the Gucci bag, sold more expensive than the real one on Roblox, be compatible with the Meta world? I hope so for its owner.
What are the elements that can hinder the experiences they will offer you?
Will brands looking to deliver a strong experience to their customers have the budget to thrive in the metaverse? In the same way that Facebook chatbots remain very limited in terms of service, will the platforms offer us 3D modeled tools or models of places that we can customize?
Do brands want to find themselves in a standardized world or will the network be open and therefore compatible with the technical standards that will allow them to “manage” experiences thought of elsewhere? It would therefore be a kind of immersive shopping center. But this is still a technological challenge. In terms of futurology, Luc Besson’s film Valerian gives us an idea of what it could be: it was one of the greatest productions of all time and yet a commercial flop.