In the year 2045, in a world on the verge of chaos, young Wade Watts leads another life in addition to his real earthly existence. His digital double evolves in the Oasis, an artificial platform without limits. Welcome to Ready Player One, Steven Spielberg’s science fiction film, released in 2018. Futuristic utopia? That remains to be seen. Facebook’s new name, now Meta, revives the subject of the metaverse. This fictional universe, long confined to the status of a huge playground, is expanding its field of action. Indeed, far from being reserved only for video game designers, it concerns all Internet users. Concretely, what is the metaverse? How can we envisage this new axis of development in our uses of the Web? Focus on a computer revolution: the metaverse, a 3.0 virtual world.
The metaverse: decryption
The term “metaverse” first appeared in 1992 in Neal Stephenson’s anticipation book Snow Crash (The Virtual Samurai). Another science fiction author, Daniel F. Gluey, already evoked this idea in one of his novels at the end of the 1960s. Neal Stephenson invented the word, an assembly of the Greek word “meta,” which means “in beyond” and “towards,” a contraction of the word “universe.”
Within this virtual space, our avatar, or digital twin, has free and real-time access to various activities: having fun, consuming, working, learning, etc. Everything becomes possible and possible. We enter a world beyond our world. Using a helmet or glasses that allow our immersion as a hologram, it’s as if we were there! The particularity of the metaverse, compared to an ordinary 3D vision, lies in its persistence. It still exists, even in our absence. During a virtual visit, an Internet user will be able to benefit from a creation previously left by another. The parallel digital platform adopts a space-time identical to ours. This sustainability is intended for the community experience and the interaction with other users.
We rightly think of the film Matrix by the Wachowski brothers, whose first opus was released in 1999. Science fiction is no longer really unreal. It is within our reach. We touch it with our fingers. Too good to be true! Yet this interactive technology, accessible to all, is already the reality experienced by countless fans.
Cyberspace conquering the Internet
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook and indisputable visionary, understood that the metaverse is the niche to exploit. The fashionable notion even becomes its Trojan horse. As early as 2021, his company plans to spend $10 billion to transform its social network into a virtual community place. Still, with this aim, it plans to recruit 10,000 employees in Europe alone. Facebook blue tick agency of the interconnected channel will be able to share their experiences in 3D and in real-time while being in common virtual spaces. On October 28, 2021, in order to prepare for the conversion, he changed the name of his flourishing company to Meta Platforms (Meta for short).
The metaverse is widely showcased in the video game industry. Virtual reality headsets immerse us in 3D images immerse us in our favorite games. From the beginning of the 2000s, the artificial and free playful universe of Second Life brought together nearly 30 million users. The software allows you to evolve in a digital world and to meet other players in the form of avatars. Two decades later, Fortnite, Roblox, or Minecraft, three video game platform giants, compete in their 3.0 virtual immersion proposals:
- online concerts hosted by Fortnite and rapper Travis Scott between April 23-25, 2020 (27.7 million live attendees);
- virtual exhibition through a partnership between Roblox and Gucci in May 2021;
- creation of artificial worlds in Minecraft in which gamer avatars meet.
The 3.0 virtual world at the heart of the user experience
The metaverse bases its success on the quality of what the Internet user experiences in digital environments, otherwise known as “user experience” or “UX.” The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of individual adaptation to this concept. By working confined at home, we practiced meetings via videoconference, proving the possibility of continuing collaborations despite physical distancing. On the other hand, when it comes to consumption, 61% of global shoppers prefer shopping online over in-store.
In all the cases encountered on a daily basis, the metaverse allows you to go even further:
- meeting rooms and virtual offices, creating pseudo-proximity between employees;
- shopping via virtual immersion in the store;
- cryptocurrency or cyber currency dedicated digital currency;
- online travel;
- remote art exhibitions;
- cinema sessions from his sofa;
- real estate tours in virtual reality.
The list is not exhaustive because there is no limit to this future being invented.
These abstract worlds have a favorite audience. Indeed, the youngest are fond of virtual universes and take them in hand with ease. Take, for example, Generation Z, born in the early 2000s, who grew up with the Internet. His immersion in these parallel spaces is done in a natural way. But the developers of the flagship concept are preparing metaverses accessible to all ages, although certain IT reflexes appear less innate for seniors. The latter are fond of the very real experience, as much by habit as by lack of knowledge and practice of the Web. Beyond a consumerist vision adaptable to all, virtual reality also suggests unexpected health benefits. Jeremy Beilenson, professor of communication and founding director of the SVHIL (Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab), observed this through his research. Since 2003, he has demonstrated the benefits of immersive experiences for the elderly. The list of benefits is promising: improved well-being and empathy, reduced feelings of isolation, and a fight against social phobia. Something to be reassured about the means that will be implemented so that anyone can access the metaverses.
Want to know more? Find studies on the benefits of virtual reality.
The integration of digital universes into digital strategy
All Internet professionals agree: the move to the metaverse will be, in one way or another, a necessity for all brands. Digital marketing is no exception. The term “metaverse” saw a significant spike in searches at the end of 2021, heightened interest unequivocally linked to Facebook news. A trendy and viral keyword, it boosts natural referencing (SEO) and improves your online visibility. Communicating on this concept becomes essential.
In addition, Google algorithms are constantly improving the search mode. Images and videos, just as much as a text, drive traffic. YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram: all have understood that the strategy to stay up to date goes through the visual. These same think about the method to adopt to integrate, by extension of their graphic approach, an evolutionary dimension in 3D. All the media integrate the visionary subject, take it head-on, surfing on a trend that makes many eyes shine. According to Cathy Hackl, an American speaker and author specializing in augmented reality:
“Brands will need to rethink their three-dimensional narratives, and marketers will need to adopt emerging technologies more quickly. In the metaverse, everyone is a worldbuilder, including brands. »
The metaverse attracts customers, wants to simplify exchanges, and awakens social networks. A new fashionable axis to propel your activity, this replica of the physical world as we know it is added to the list of improvement tracks to increase your sales on the Internet.
Welcome to a new 3.0 world. At the top of the concepts to follow at the end of 2021, the metaverse has not finished its mad race towards a future 100% in augmented reality. Don’t miss the mark! In order to be operational and to approach this transition smoothly, set up regular monitoring around this innovative concept. Everyone can find their place in this parallel space and integrate their marketing strategy, even partially. That’s the whole point. The Internet as we know it is not about to die out in favor of a fully 3D universe. The metaverse only adds a new branch to it. The key asset lies in the anticipation. So be ready. Science fiction is for tomorrow!