while France hesitates, the world moves!

Metaverses, multiverses or metaverses, depending on the names, are entirely digital virtual universes connected to the real world. Natural evolution of social networks, Internet games, 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 the restrictions due to the pandemic of recent years. You can participate in the same real-world activities or invent new practices there. Popularized some twenty years ago through engines like 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 NFT (non-fungible tokens), based on blockchain technologies, also largely contributed to this.

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promised lands

And for good reason. In a few months, the metaverses have generated a real enthusiasm for brands, such as the Gucci Garden experience, of the Kering group, which took place in May 2021 in the Roblox metaverse and which attracted almost 20 million visitors. There were also giant virtual concerts, such as that of rapper Travis Scott, which counted more than 45.8 million views. These figures explain why tech players see their projects valued at billions of euros.

Tens of billions of investments announced, including Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Epic Games, Baidu and many others. Their objective is clear: to position themselves quickly in front of the magnitude of the phenomenon and not to lose these “promised lands”. Because at the moment, several thousand metaverse ventures swarm 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, multipurpose meeting rooms … The heavyweights of the industry have positioned themselves to develop training programs there, while others apply to design of new products and services. Metaverses are becoming a natural extension of the digital twin and multiplying its perspectives, for example by offering new approaches to optimizing or controlling industrial processes (see BMW’s experience with Nvidia’s Omniverse). Professions evolve to cope with the significant need for manpower, for example in the modeling of virtual spaces or in the interaction between metaverses. E-commerce operators are interested in it in order to better understand the new purchasing mechanisms that are being implemented, 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 soon become a key indicator. Because the great challenges of this new wave are to attract participants and above all to keep them. In this regard, the Second Life experience has shown that a lack of human presence in interactions can quickly alienate audiences.

French fears

And the game has just begun. As we can see in “The French and the metaverse”, an Ifop poll for Talan published in January 2022, 41% of young people between the ages of 18 and 49 had heard of the metaverse, 63% were afraid of the emergence of digital virtual worlds. In parallel, a survey conducted by the Wunderman Thomson agency, in July 2021, indicates that out of a panel of 3,011 Americans, British and Chinese, the latter are ready to spend an average of $ 76,000 to buy a digital home in the metaverse. ! Perceptions related to digital vary considerably across countries. And if the French are often reluctant to change, experience has shown that they will know how to get on the bandwagon to exploit the potential of these developments.

This difference in perception can be an advantage 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 at the service of mankind and taking into account the climatic 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, who are often pioneers, and consulting firms recognized consulting firms that support economic actors in their transformations.

Philippe Cassoulat, managing director of the Talan group

The opinions of the experts are published under the full responsibility of their authors and do not bind the editorial staff of L’Usine Nouvelle in any way.

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