France goes on the offensive at the Metaverse – and wants to compete with tech giants

• French government surveys citizens, businesses and experts on the Metaverse
• Development of a French economic strategy for immersive virtual universes
• Planned alternative to the tech giants’ Metaverse

The French Ministry of Economy has published a questionnaire about the Metaverse. Citizens, companies, research institutions and associations can still take part in the survey until May 2nd and thus inform the government of their “perspectives and expectations for immersive virtual universes”.


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France declares war on Meta and Co. at the Metaverse

According to the press release, the survey is intended as a supplement to the European consultation initiative launched at the end of March and is intended to advance the “work on the development of the future French economic strategy for immersive virtual universes, also known as metaverses”. Citizens, companies, associations and researchers should express their expectations so that the government can design its strategy accordingly. According to Jean-Noël Barrot, France’s Minister for Digital Transformation and Telecommunications, the introduction of Metaverse technologies will only be successful “if they are put at the service of our fellow citizens”.

Even if the initial hype surrounding the metaverse has actually subsided, the French government sees clear potential in the new technology and believes that “beyond fads […] an immersive digital transition” is imminent. “The development of immersive virtual universes is technologically and economically promising for the future,” French Minister Jean-Noël Barrot is quoted in the press release as saying. France therefore wants “an ambitious strategy […] so that this immersive digital transition does not come at the expense of our technological, economic and cultural sovereignty,” continued Barrot.

What only resonates subliminally in Barrot’s statements is then also explicitly formulated in the introduction to the questionnaire: namely that the French strategy for digital worlds is ultimately intended to compete with the Metaverse plans of tech giants such as Meta. Ultimately, the goal is “to offer an alternative to the virtual immersive universes currently offered by the international giants”.

Population can help shape “virtual universe à la Française”.

However, there are apparently no concrete pilot projects for a French metaverse, and the press release also emphasizes that the technology is still in its infancy. Nevertheless, the development of virtual immersive universes has become an integral part of the economic discussion for several months and it is already possible “to anticipate the forms and methods of use, based on what is already known in terms of immersive technologies (Virtual Reality, Augmented reality, hardware glasses/haptics combinations, etc.) and network infrastructures (video game industry calculators, cloud services, multi-user browsing, etc.) exist to offer richer social, professional or cultural experiences”. The French government assumes that “the virtual immersive universes of tomorrow […] different forms and methods of use, based on different technological foundations,” including blockchain technology.

In the survey, the French Ministry of Economic Affairs now wants to know from the citizens, among other things, which use cases of the Metaverse France should support with priority. A focus on the health sector, training, entertainment, industry or education can be selected. In addition, citizens should indicate in the survey whether they plan to spend time in future virtual immersive universes and whether they have already gained experience with VR, AR, blockchain, digital twins and the like. The biggest concerns regarding the metaverse can also be mentioned.

Incidentally, companies, associations and researchers are each shown a different version of the questionnaire. For example, researchers are asked about potential barriers to growth for French companies in virtual immersive universes and estimated funding needs, while companies are asked if they plan to invest in the Metaverse.

Whether and when the results of the survey will be made public and what impact they will have on France’s Metaverse plans remains to be seen.

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