“A virtual reality construction intended to replace the internet, mix virtual life with real life, and create endless new playgrounds for everyone – you can do almost anything you can imagine. » Mark Zuckerberg, the boss of Meta (Facebook) knows how to make us dream of his future metaverse. But, concretely, how does this happen?
Try the metaverse. OK but how? Outside of the United States and Canada, it is not yet possible to access Horizon Worlds from the Meta. But I have at least the basics: a virtual reality (VR) headset. There are different models made by many brands: Oculus (Meta), HTC, Sony, Valve… In this case, I got an Oculus Quest 2, that is the most popular model at the moment. It is sold for €349.99 and manufactured by… Meta, which bought the company in 2014. Mark Zuckerberg’s group is trying to mark the entire route of Web3, which is announced as the new Internet. A world where the current behemoths of the Internet (Meta, Google, etc.) should no longer rule the roost. But, for now, they are the most invested in this imaginary Web3.
Oculus Quest 2: total immersion
I have a virtual reality headset, so it remains to figure out what to do with it. After watching some VR videos, I understood the principle. Experience roller coasters, expeditions to Everest, discovering space aboard the ISS… There are many possibilities to experience immersion in virtual worlds.
Used climbing game The Ascent 2, now I’m learning to use the joysticks supplied with the helmet… and I understand how easy it is to fall asleep while sitting motionless under your sofa. The sensations were very real when I missed the grip and fell several meters on an alpine wall. Worse: my arms hurt from climbing, because I had paralyzed my muscles with the imaginary grip. Immersion in the question, without a doubt, it works perfectly. But what about this virtual world that is the metaverse?
Alone on the beach, abandoned
In the headset’s virtual interface, I found an app called Villa: Metaverse Creation & NFT Collaboration Platform. I downloaded it, I installed it. First surprise: to access it, I had to pay $9.99 for a month. The promise? A luxurious metaverse with a personal villa by the sea, to decorate with NFT paints and to host friends at the pool. The (virtual) reality? A kind of Second lifebut not at the height of its popularity, in 2006. No, rather a Second life for now, that is… empty.
First of all, it’s beautiful. The problem is when you start getting close. The villa sits on a sort of flying carpet above a fine sandy beach. The rooms are either very well decorated or completely empty, there is no activity or hardly… We hurried around. Only the giant aquarium in the center of the house is fun for two seconds. But this metaverse has an option: to fly above the elements and act like Superman in the air. Again, after two minutes of fun, we were left unsatisfied. Acting in a virtual universe is all well and good, but if you wander aimlessly, the interest is limited.
Especially since the decorations around are made of cardboard. Walking along the water or approaching the surrounding hill is not a good idea. The closer you are, the more pixelated the image. And if we “enter” the decoration, then there, it is completely black. As for “friends” to invite, not an avatar on the horizon of my many connections. So no one can at least get to know each other, even less than inviting near my brazier by the pool. Not really a “dolce villa” like I thought, more like a cardboard movie set. And I, alone on the beach, abandoned. In short, this is probably the worst spent $9.99 in my life. I do a good job of setting an alert on my phone to remember to unsubscribe in less than 30 days.
To attack Roblox
New strategy: I launched a Google search – Web 2.0 is very useful for that. On request “How to test the metaverse”, not really an answer in French. On the other hand, I found more tracks in English. This is what I advise to go and look at the online game side Roblox. Join this popular platform with an unlimited variety of immersive 3D worlds created by the community itself. Roblox has grown significantly in recent months, from 32.6 million daily active users in 2020 to almost 50 million in 180 countries in 2021. Today, it has 230 million and its valuation is almost 20 billion dollars.
Originally dedicated to children, Roblox gradually turning to a mature audience and attracting more brands: Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Nike, Chipotle, Kellogg’s, Samsung … The list of communication operations and other marketing activities continues to grow. The Nikeland space thus attracted about 6.7 million people from 224 different countries between its launch in November 2021 and March 2022.
For the connection, there is no direct connection to the helmet. You need to go through a computer and the Oculus Link software to display it on the headset. I need to create my avatar or choose a ready-made one. If, from the point of view of immersion, I remain unsatisfied – the design of the Roblox universe is the least minimalist -, at least there are people to talk to. Roblox encourages interactions and discussions. Milky_Way_56, SwanStone22 or even AwsomeKitten crossed my path during hours spent walking through different universes. It is difficult to know who is really behind each profile. Male or female. American, Indian, French. Young or old… Everyone creates their own character. This is the whole principle of metaverses. And that is the whole wealth of Roblox : a wide variety of fantasy worlds and atmospheres. In addition, about 7 million developers participated in the creation Robloxon this different platform.
There is no question, however, of settling: real estate speculation in these virtual worlds is very real and the prices are completely delusional. Anyway, I’m a metaverse homeless…
What are we going to do in the metaverse, besides wandering around randomly? Although these parallel worlds are still in their infancy, there is much to do. For example, the yoga brand Alo (acronym for WIND, earth, seasie air, land, ocean) offers “sanctuary” to Roblox . On this island, it is possible to practice mindfulness with daily guided meditation sessions, but also take free yoga classes. I installed my “real” yoga mat in my living room and found myself, through the Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset, in the most soothing environment. The sound bath and light lapping of the waves, I go to the Alo Store to get my yoga mat – virtual this time – before joining the class area.
The posture of the triangle, of the tree… Once each position is “found” by the system according to the approximate placement of his body thanks to the joysticks, it will be very easy to copy it with a simple combination of fingers. We are happy to cheat if we want to… Conclusion? Watching a video on YouTube, classes on fitness services such as Apple Fitness + or even a session with a particular video teacher is equally interesting, but let’s say that the experience has merit that exists .
Isla sa Alo has been visited over 32 million times since its launch. But it must be said that the brand also offers a search to find clues that allow you to win gifts, which is very true.
Recruiting, insurance agent, concert, luxury brand fall…
Brands and large groups are multiplying initiatives in the metaverse. Adidas Originals has already sold NFTs in December 2021. Unique tokens, each sold for 0.2 ether, or about 700 euros at the time, will allow access to “physical” clothing collections. In Axa, an insurance agent from the north of France has chosen to offer its services in its physical agency in Bully-les-Mines (Pas-de-Calais) and in the Gather metaverse since April. Artists also tried out the virtual concert experience at Horizon Worlds. Las, David Guetta, Young Thug or The Chainsmoker didn’t draw crowds. Maybe due to the lack of enough users of this platform at that time (end of December 2021), because the concerts are organized in the video game Fortniteby rapper Travis Scott gathered several million participants.
So, this month in the metaverse? To say I was dissatisfied would be an understatement. Like the beginning of many social networks of their time, you have to accept the passage of a laborious course to finally understand the essence of these new universes and understand their interest. By creating links with other avatars, by mastering codes and usage, by taking advantage of the good plans offered by brands that have invested heavily in the metaverse “to be seen”, there is no doubt that the perspective will improve. Maybe I’ll be addicted, like now I can’t do without Instagram or Twitter. For now, I’ll start by working on the look of my avatar…