Europe struggles to arm itself in the battle of the metaverse

Europe struggles to arm itself in the battle of the metaverse


2045, the metaverse Oasis has become “the most important economic resource in the world”. This universe that is both entirely virtual – and planetary game –, straight out of a science fiction story Loan player one (Crown Publishers, 2011), written by Ernest Cline, provides an escape from a real world that has descended into chaos: energy crisis, global warming, economic stagnation, social problems, overpopulation… Does this ring a bell? ? Less apocalyptic, the most successful immersive universes of virtual reality promise us – with the help of helmets or glasses – parallel worlds with hyperrealistic design. Endowed with their own ecosystem, they will allow our avatars or our holograms to socialize, to buy, to consume, to monetize, to play, to love; in short, to “rebuild one’s life”, even to earn one’s living there, while having the leisure to interact with reality.

Virtually visiting every nook and cranny of your future home before buying it or having it built will be, for example, as natural as going to a virtual supermarket to do your shopping and seeing it delivered to yourself in real life. Advertisements will, of course, also be part of the landscape. A virtual world that should bring in very real billions: McKinsey forecasts that their annual economic potential could generate up to $5 trillion globally by the end of the current decade – “the income equivalent of the third largest economy in the world today, Japan”, assure the consultants. Other studies, more realistic, count on several hundred billion dollars of annual turnover within five to eight years. After the cloud, artificial intelligence or the blockchain (technology intended to guarantee the security of transactions), immersive virtual reality is the new craze of the digital society that is taking hold.

Risk of virtual colonization

And it is, once again, the American giants of the Net who lead the dance of the virtualization of the world. Facebook set the pace by renaming itself Meta in the fall of 2021 and injecting $10 billion – per year, until 2030! – in an attempt to be the first to launch a planetary metaverse. His compatriots, Microsoft, Epic Games or Roblox, to name a few, have already entered the battle. Asians, like HTC Vive, are also in the game. Europe, on the other hand, risks being colonized again virtually, for lack of fighters. Yet the French number one in software and European champion, Dassault Systèmes remains discreet in the face of this revolution that its CEO, Bernard Charlès, recently considered, neither more nor less, as “a marketing description of what has been done”. The French flagship of the CAC 40 has been offering virtual reality solutions for a long time with its “digital twins” capable of simulating the human body before a medical intervention or of designing an entire aircraft in immersive 3D even before its manufacture.

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