Everything about this virtual universe that attracts tech giants

What is metaverse?

The metaverse (or metaverse in French) refers to an experience in a three-dimensional virtual environment, where evolution can be done through an avatar or hologram. This alternate reality makes it possible to discuss with others but also to learn, work or play. The metaverse uses augmented reality (AR) as well as virtual reality (VR) to create a collective world. Thanks to these advanced technologies, the metaverse uses the rules of verbal and non-verbal communication similar to reality: gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice …

From a historical point of view, the term “metaverse” first appeared in 1992, in the novel “Virtual samurai”Written by Neil Stephenson. The world described there plunges us into a world of science fiction, which could be closer to our reality in the future.

Metaverse, an inspiration in the cultural world

Books, movies, video games… The virtual world inspires you in multiple cultural sectors. On the cinematic side, one, of course, thinks of the dystopian universe of The Matrix or, more recently, of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.

At the same time, it is the giants of video games who are betting big on this parallel world. During the confinement associated with the health crisis, games such as Fortnite, Roblox or Animal Crossing – all of which offer metaverses – have seen a significant increase in the number of their players. For example, in May 2020, Fortnite had 350 million registered players. Even more powerful, the Battle Royale mode collected 3.2 billion hours of gameplay in April 2020, during its first booking.

When the metaverse becomes a profitable space

Who says new community space, says new business opportunities for brands looking for vision. If we seem to be witnessing the beginnings of the metaverse, the most innovative companies have already been able to seize the opportunities it offers: virtual events, partnerships, product placements, virtual shopping… the options are endless. Here are some examples of marketing and commercial activities undertaken by brands:

  • Fortnite and Travis Scott, with the organization and broadcast of a live concert in the video game. In total, over 12 million players attended the live event, when it was first broadcast on April 23, 2020.

  • Roblox and Gucci, with a virtual limited-time exhibition space created alongside a physical Gucci Garden event. The luxury brand, which decided to market its products in virtual form for the occasion, managed to sell a virtual bag that is more expensive ($ 4115) than its physical version (it is sold in stores at a price of 3500 dollars).
  • Create virtual influencers on social networks, such as Lil Miquela, the virtual character who has 3 million subscribers on Instagram. Brands like Calvin Klein, Samsung, Prada, and even Spotify have already teamed up with the influencer. According to OnBuy, the sponsored post posted on Lil Miquela’s profile will cost £6,550.

Of course, communication is easy between the metaverse and NFTs, allowing access to unique digital addresses of the property. For example, a decentralized fund dedicated to NFTs Blackpool It acquired the land where the Eiffel Tower was built in the Metaverse area above reality for $105,000.

Thus, the metaverse offers multiple opportunities for brands. On the other hand, it is important to distinguish between the consumer and the avatar he created for himself. In fact, users imagine a character in their own doll, tweaking the details of their choices. Therefore, marketing actions are aimed at illusory representations, and it becomes difficult to imagine characters as close as possible to the reality of the final consumers. Even Cathy Hackl, a Metaverse strategist and lecturer specializing in augmented reality, talks about a new relationship with clients: Direct-to-Avatar (D2A).

Could the metaverse change the rules of our society?

In addition to the world of video games, the metaverse appears to be deeply rooted in society. It seems that various restrictions have accelerated the digitization process in everyday life (appetizers and virtual games with friends, live concerts on social networks, series that can be watched simultaneously, etc.), but also in companies.

Thus, in 2014, Facebook bought the virtual reality company Oculus VR for $2 billion (a profitable investment when we know that Mark Zuckerberg paid $14 billion for WhatsApp). Then, in 2020, Facebook launched Horizon, a virtual reality and multiplayer social network powered by an Oculus VR headset. After the entertainment, the Facebook group is now taking on the world of work with the Oculus Horizon Workrooms project, which proposes using the metaverse to allow employees to meet virtually in a conference room, as shown in the video below.

Going even further, Mark Zuckerberg is now hiring 10,000 people to work on virtual and augmented reality. In an interview with The Verge, the entrepreneur said he views the metaverse as a “The Internet is embodied, where you are in it rather than just looking at the content.” So the race to conquer the metaverse has been launched, and it has Facebook’s interest to reach first:

“I think over the next five years, in the next chapter of our work, we will go from people who primarily see us as a social media company to a metaverse company,” Mark Zuckerberg said.

On September 27, Facebook also announced a $50 million investment to ensure the metaverse was built responsibly, in partnership with global experts, consumer associations, and policy makers.

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