Metaverse, metaverse, meta-universe or metaverse, we’ve only been talking about this term since Mark Zuckerberg proclaimed it the successor to the Internet. But, what exactly does this mean?
In October 2021, facing business consolidation, Facebook changed its name. Mark Zuckerberg’s team announced that it would be “Meta” and, in passing, presented his vision of the future. According to him, the 2D Internet, the one we surf thanks to a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari), will die. The future of digital is in 3D, in a virtual world called the “metaverse”.
Determined to make as much noise as possible to tell people about his project (and divert media attention), Meta does everything he can to tell the planet about the metaverse. A paid bet: the media around the world began to present this virtual universe as our future, while startups and large companies, such as Carrefour, announced that they were working on it. The metaverse, which was only a fantasy today, became the subject of everyday life. While most people don’t know what it means.
In August 2022, metaverse is a catch-all term, meaning everything and nothing. While the vision of Mark Zuckerberg and Meta is very clear, even if not achievable at the moment, the use of the term society is rarely appropriate. On paper, there are already thousands of metaverses.
“The” metaverse according to Facebook
To explain what the metaverse is, we will divide our article into two parts. The first is dedicated to the vision of Facebook, which imagines a metaverse capable of replacing the Internet. Others refer to the term as more general and applicable to existing objects.
How Meta imagines its metaverse, which it presents as a unique virtual world and not an application ? For Mark Zuckerberg’s company, the web will soon pivot to the 3D era. Meta imagines that we will navigate in virtual worlds, which should reproduce the real world, thanks to glasses (virtual reality, mixed reality or augmented reality). There is, however, one important point to consider: his metaverse is not necessarily linked to the glasses. In the company’s vision, you can also access it from your smartphone, although it is less intuitive.
In the metaverse according to Meta, we see the entire Internet. We walk in the form of an avatar, we can join our friends on the other side of the planet, participate in other people’s activities, work and eat, thanks to a virtual currency. The metaverse is a replica of Ready Player One or to Matrix and, ideally, become a standard. Meta hopes that all the web giants will agree to make their ecosystems interoperable. The company wants the services of Google, Microsoft, Apple and others to be accessible in its virtual world, without having to switch applications. A major issue, which no one thought possible. By August 2022, “the” Facebook-like metaverse doesn’t exist at all, despite Meta’s investments. No one knows if it will see the light of day.
Now, Meta offers World Worldan application that provides insight into its metaverse, which often looks like video game mode The Sims. His beginnings were mixed. World World struggling to convince and you really don’t want to give up your entire digital life for this virtual world. There are also fewer and fewer users on the platform.
“The” metaverses, is a very broad concept
In fact, Facebook did not invent anything. Mark Zuckerberg’s company managed to successfully swallow the term “metaverse” to make it its own, but above all it created confusion in the minds of millions of people. Many now link Facebook, virtual reality and the metaverse, while these three ideas are completely separate. Virtual reality is certainly a technology of the future, but it goes without saying that Facebook, along with its subsidiary Oculus, will remain the star of the industry. The existence of a single metaverse concept is uncertain. We wonder in particular what Apple will do with its headphones in 2023. It’s hard to imagine the company going to the same concepts as Meta, with a virtual world.
In fact, metaverses are ancient, even if they weren’t called that back then. By definition, a metaverse “a virtual world, which transcends the real world”. No one links it to virtual reality or the replacement of the Internet, it can be a video game or an application. Here are some examples of services that perfectly fit the definition of a metaverse:
- video games like GTA Online hope Fortnitewhere you interact with other players in a virtual world.
- Old concepts like Second lifewhere you live a double life with an avatar in a video game.
- Virtual reality dating apps, such as VRChatwhich allows you to meet people in fake places.
- Applications to play or have fun with others, in virtual reality or elsewhere, to find themselves in virtual worlds.
In fact, all virtual experiences of real people are metaverse. Facebook’s dream of creating the successor to the Internet in 3D is just a fantasy based on an existing concept. When the media talks about the metaverse, they usually talk about the idea of Facebook. But the term can easily be misused, especially when startups imagine selling designs in a virtual world or when groups like Carrefour organize job interviews in a virtual island. The metaverse means everything and nothing and we can only regret that those who talk about it sometimes forget this distinction.