Metaverse, a virtual wasteland always presented as a revolution for…

Despite the staggering costs of development, the metaverse, which is supposed to revolutionize the use of the Internet, is still only a series of more or less deserted virtual islands. However, the most invested companies continue to believe in it.

If the metaverse is empty, “it’s because the products are bad,” shares Joel Hazan, partner at Boston Consulting Group.

According to this expert, who conducted a study in six Western countries, 52% of respondents know the concept of metaverse and 16% have interacted with one of these virtual worlds (46% among 18-24 year olds).

But the experiences that are successful are those that preceded the appearance of the metaverse concept itself: the ultra popular games “Roblox”, “Minecraft” and “Fortnite” or the virtual world “VRChat”.

In contrast, newer platforms like The Sandbox or Decentraland, which rely on cryptocurrencies for funding and want to encourage the exchange of digital goods, have only a few thousand regular users willing to spend money on them.

“I’m not worried,” assures AFP the co-founder of The Sandbox, Stéphane Borget, met during the Web Summit in Lisbon. According to him, between 30,000 and 40,000 users interact daily with the platform this summer.

“People are interested in the metaverse. Brands keep coming and more than 230 studios are now producing content,” he insists.

However, even Meta (formerly Facebook), which committed more than $10 billion to develop the Horizon Worlds universe, had to revise its declining ambitions.

“Many of us don’t spend that much time on + Horizon +,” wrote Vishal Shah, the vice president of the group responsible for metaverse, in a note to his employees in mid-September, obtained by The Verge media. .

– “Big Bet” –

He reported negative feedback and asked himself, “If we don’t love (the platform), how can we expect our users to love it?”

Of the tens of thousands of “worlds” existing on the platform, only 9% receive more than 50 visitors each month, according to documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal.

Could this be improved by sharing revenue with creators and adding legs for avatars, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced?

“For it to work, developers have to find that the Quest (virtual reality) headset is great, that they want to develop apps on it. That dynamic is not committed at all,” explains Joel Hazan.

Far from giving up, metaverse promoters are now scrambling to find technical solutions to accommodate ever-larger crowds.

Thus, the British company Improbable has developed for almost a decade a system that allows to accommodate up to “20,000 people around the world who interact in real time with their voice” within the same virtual space.

This would allow music stars, famous athletes or brands to increase their presence with their fans, its leader Herman Narula boasted during the Web Summit.

Improbable joined forces this year with Yuga Labs, the champion of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which mainly owns the Bored Apes Yacht Club collection, from which it wants to spin a video game called Otherside.

A first test in July, without virtual reality, allowed about 4,500 “travelers” to immerse themselves in the heart of the game at the same time, but a release date has not yet been set.

Metaverse is “a big gamble, and it’s important to take risks to innovate,” said Naomi Gleit, Meta’s director of applications, when interviewed on the Web Summit stage.

“There are so many companies innovating this. I think it will happen with or without Meta,” she added.

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