a single term for very distinct worlds

The term metaverse today is used inconsistently for plural and sometimes far-reaching uses. JDN provides a typology to better navigate.

Originally, when it first entered the vocabulary within the novel Snow Crash, metaverse meant an infrastructure that hosts interconnected dimensions. Today, we have to deal with metaverses, a multitude of representations of this immersive environment concept.

A fun dive above all

One of the main uses of a metaverse is for entertainment. A use case created by games and interactive platforms: from Second life in 2002, Internet browsers wandered through connected virtual worlds for entertainment purposes. If this pioneer of the metaverse still exists, frequented by around 600,000 monthly active users (MAUs), these are Roblox, Minecraft AND Fortnite who today take the lion’s share accumulating more than 250 million users worldwide.

Once the most popular platform (estimated 93 million MAU), Minecraft is a platform of virtual worlds, consisting of blocks partially assembled by the players themselves. A principle similar to that of Roblox, now the leader of this segment (100 million MAUs) and is used especially in the multiplayer mode. Another big player, Fortnite has around 80 million monthly active users for the battle royale games.

But if these platforms are above all areas of the game, today they qualify as metaverses as theaters of new experiences designed by brands and artists: Nike, Givenchy, Gucci, H&M or Walmart have invested in Roblox since 2021 ; after banning brands in 2016, Minecraft now opens its arms to them, as illustrated by collaborations with Burberry, Lacoste and Uniqlo; on the Fortnite side, we saw concerts from Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, a twin of the Cannes festival in partnership with Brut media or a collaboration with the Balenciaga brand. So many activations that give these platforms a new social dimension. You can also participate in stand-up: this is the specialty of Rendering Comedy Club failed which happens in Worlds of the Horizon Where VR Chat.

Combining games and interactions is also the goal of the Web3 metaverse: The sandbox, Decentraland, Voxels, Somnium… The latter stand out for their desire to better redistribute the value created by user-generated content. The latter are able to gain full ownership of their digital assets – accessories, avatars, land – and monetize them by collecting most of their profits, unlike the practices of their Web2 counterparts, taxes and whose transactions can reach 70%. If these more decentralized platforms are still far from attracting the most users (The Sandbox, the most popular, claims 200,000 monthly active users for its 3 alpha season), they have not been neglected by brands and artists: Gucci, Playboy , Snoop Dogg, The Smurfs and even Paris Hilton took the virtual turf of The Sandbox, while Heineken, Samsung, Nike and Starbucks did the same in Decentraland. Those who don’t want to go to the malls will appreciate the opportunity to see or participate in social movements such as this demonstration of the Superflus foundation in front of Samsung’s virtual premises in Decentraland, an initiative reminiscent of that of 1,850 avatars protesting IBM headquarters in Second Life in 2007.

The miniverse

A metaverse is not necessarily a long-term infrastructure: isolated 3D immersive environments with a limited lifespan are often created for events, such as the concerts produced by the French company. Vroom with Jean-Michel Jarre, or for commercial operations, in particular shopping: Dior Beauty, Estée Lauder, Fendi or Jo Malone have offered their customers this kind of interactive 360° dimension with mini-games, testing or AR product presentations. Creations including the French startup METAV.RS or the agency Cosmic Shelter have made a specialty.

At work in the metaverse

Digital replica of the Crédit Agricole agency. © Virteem

The metaverse concept also finds applications in the corporate sector: meetings, trainings and courses are now activities that have their place in virtual worlds. There are several infrastructures for companies that want to create their own virtual experience, such as Space.io (free or paid for capacities greater than 50 people) that offers realistic virtual worlds such as offices, auditoriums or other reception areas; in France, the company Virtue precisely designs customized platforms, adopted by groups such as PSA, Axa, Vinci or communities for the virtualization of the territory for the purposes of tourism support. The Côte d’Azur company is one of the pioneers of the sector, born in 2012 under the name Groupe VIP 360.

The educational sector should not be neglected and constitutes another of the applications of the metaverse, as illustrated by the experiences of the Technological University of Monterrey or that of San Diego who have thus created their own virtual campus with the solution Verbela. Real estate agency eXp Realty, which has a subsidiary in France, relies on Virbela’s technology to its metaverse platform. Today, the company no longer has a physical office and has gone completely paperless: its independent advisors connect to the platform for comprehensive meetings or presentations.

Only for meetings, Meta also offers its solution Working roomsslightly mocked for its childish graphics and competed with the solution launched by Cevat Yerli (founder of the video game studio Crytek), 3D ROOM. This is positioned in an offer of environments designed to reproduce a sense of reality, such as a Parisian cafedirectly through the web browser.

Digital twins

The industrial sector is already benefiting from the contribution of these technologies, especially through the emergence of digital twins, a concept synonymous with a virtual copy of an existing infrastructure or tool. The Renault group was especially introduced in October 2022 its own industrial metaverse solution, which digitally reproduces connected devices in its supply chain and aggregates the collected data. At the same time, these modeled production units can be used for other purposes, such as training employees in virtual simulation.

Real estate is not left out either: the solution WIRED of BNP Paribas offers to dive into a digital copy of the city, supplemented by public data (past real estate transactions, available real estate, urban development projects). Still in preparation, but already launched by a token presale of more than 6 million euros, the project Release Des Agences de Papa plans to bring the classic real estate transaction to the metaverse.

In the health sector, the company GigXR has developed immersive training environments (Holopatient) or a digital twin of the human body for anatomy (Holohuman), ideal applications for experiments and research.

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