It’s dead calm in the metaverse, this term popularized by Meta (formerly Facebook) which refers to a virtual world in which users can meet their friends, play games or even work using an avatar of themselves. However, Mark Zuckerberg had announced during the presentation conference of his metaverse HorizonWorld in October 2021 be “ convinced that the metaverse will succeed the mobile Internet. We will be able to feel present, as if we were physically together, no matter how far apart we are. »
Even, the McKinsey firm estimated in June that the metaverse market could represent 4,000 to 5,000 billion dollars by 2030. But for the moment, the term metaverse rhymes rather with flop than revolution. Meta is its sad symbol. After investing more than 20 billion dollars in two years in his metaverse project, only 200,000 people per month would use HorizonWorld, according to information revealed by the wall street journal.
Metavers and cryptocurrencies, a mix still not convincing
As for the other metaverse attempts, the success is not obvious either. To differentiate, Decentraland and The Sandbox, two virtual universes had the idea of linking the virtual world and cryptocurrencies and thus attracting cryptophiles. Apart from these two spaces, the decentralized metaverses, which allow users to exchange these digital assets thanks to a blockchain, a network of computers which validate and record transactions, do not manage to convince.
However, according to the European Central Bank, up to 10% of households could own cryptocurrencies”, when they would be 12% of Americans to hold cryptos according to the American Federal Reserve. “ The metaverse is the convergence of the physical and the virtual, that is to say possessing objects and data in our daily lives and finding them online. This is something that could be possible with cryptos and blockchain technology”, presents Julien Maldonato, partner at Deloitte in charge of innovation. NFTs or non-fungible tokens, certificates of ownership registered on a blockchain, make it possible, for example, to buy a pair of sneakers in a physical store and to carry their digital version in a virtual world.
Despite these potential uses, The Sandbox only reported 203,000 users per month in an October 10 tweet, when its competitor Decentraland only shows 56,697 visitors per month in an October 7 tweet, far from the 50 million users per day touted by Roblox a game allowing everyone to interact in a virtual world. And to make matters worse for their lack of popularity, they have to share the thin cake of the metaverse with other small virtual worlds like Upland Where Alien Worlds.
Even the French composer Jean-Michel Jarre wants to create his own virtual universe Oxyville, to organize a concert there in October 2023. So many actors and various and varied goals that blur the vision of what a metaverse is for the general public. According to a barometer from the Iligo agency published in April 2022, a virtual world would be seen as being of no interest to 62% of French people. “A metaverse will be able to stand out as long as they find users and retain them”, warns Nicolas Perrier, consultant at Inetum. The specialist in metaverse subjects believes that a virtual universe must above all be intuitive and beautiful to create a community. “The Sandbox and Meta forgot about end users and the fun and interesting side of spending time in this metaverse. For the moment, it is not beautiful, not easy to use and therefore few people want to go there »he regrets.
Multiverses, a solution to democratize virtual worlds?
Another possible economic model, in the absence of being able to create a metaverse alone, companies offer to develop a virtual world on behalf of a client, all on a blockchain. It is the proposal of MultiversX, formerly Elrond, which changed its name to reposition itself. “The MultiversX team has announced that it will work on a blockchain capable of carrying out a very large number of transactions and which will allow everyone to create their own metaverse. So, potentially, beautiful and interesting worlds that could accommodate many internet users able to easily travel between these worlds”says Owen Simonin, alias hasherFrench influencer and ambassador of MultiversX. An ambitious project which is however only in its infancy since it will carry out its first test on December 10 by creating a virtual world supposed to be able to accommodate 10,000 users simultaneously.
“It is difficult to know if this project will be successful. Better interoperability between worlds and the development of technologies that are easy to use for the general public may not be enough to differentiate one blockchain from the others. There are currently about thirty blockchains in competition with Ethereum, including MultiversX which is only nineteenth and in the medium long term there will only be 3 or 4 left. », nuance Stanislas Barthelemi, crypto consultant at KPMG, who believes that the new MultiversX project was mainly created to attract new customers.
Always to be certain that the metaverses develop, other actors of the sector created the Open Metaverse Alliance beginning of November on the occasion of the show WebSummit of Lisbon. Metametaverse, Alien Worlds and even Animaco Brand, the creators of The Sandbox, participated in setting up this association, which aims to structure and promote decentralized metaverses with European regulators.
Because if Europe begins to regulate cryptocurrencies and their uses with the recent vote of the regulation Market in Crypto Assets (Mica) and Transfer of Funds Regulation (TFR), metaverses and their uses do not yet enter their fields.
In fact, everything will be played on the regulation of the sector by governments, which the bosses of these young shoots have understood. Like MultiversX, who, during the days dedicated to the presentation of the project in Paris, invited the Minister Delegate for the Digital Transition Jean-Noël Barrot and his Romanian counterpart Sebastian Burduja to participate in it. “If Elrond made his conference in France it is because the bulk of the community of this project is French. But more generally, France is interesting for companies because it has a very strict legal framework. So, when you are regulated in France, it is very easy to be regulated elsewhere,” justifies Owen Simonin.
In other words, the creators of virtual worlds coupled with cryptocurrencies will have to deal with the authorities but also with public opinion, which recently witnessed the collapse of the former rising star, the FTX crypto trading platform. A case that caused the price of the bitcoin of 20% between November 7 and 11 and brought Gary Gensler, the president of the Security and Exchange Commission (DRY), the American policeman of the financial markets, has called for stronger regulation of cryptocurrencies on the chain CNBC. A hurricane on the crypto ecosystem that could well delay, see bury, the advent of decentralized metaverses.