France pushes for "anti-global" metaverse, wary of international giants

The French government launched a consultation to canvass public opinion on virtual realities. The document suggests France should create an alternative to the metaverses offered by "international giants."

French metaverse

The Directorate General for Enterprise (DGE), an institution under the French ministry of economy, launched a public consultation on "immersive virtual universes." The initiative is addressed at entities classified as businesses, associations, researcher or research centers, and citizens, who can respond to the short questionnaire until May 2.

Metaverse made in France

Among other issues, questions concern metaverse-related points of vigilance, such as data collection and health risks, and priority preferences, such as socialization, security, or environment. Concerning the latter, one of the available answers suggests nationality ("made in France") and favoring universes created by French companies.

According to the press release on DGE's website, titled "French-style virtual universes", the purpose of the questionnaire is to aid in designing a French strategy for the digital transition and offering "an alternative to the immersive virtual universes currently offered by the international giants." The undertones are clearly political, albeit expressed indirectly.

EU worried about virtual reality big players

The French initiative, with its "international" worries, aligns with a wider EU approach to the same matter. Earlier this month, the European Commission released a call for evidence for the public to provide feedback on the virtual worlds issue.

The document states that "there is a risk of having a small number of big players becoming future gatekeepers of virtual worlds, creating market entry barriers and shutting out EU start-ups and SMEs from this emerging market. Such a closed ecosystem with the prevalence of proprietary systems can negatively affect the protection of personal information and data, the cybersecurity and the freedom and openness of virtual worlds at the same time."

How much politics is involved?

Big players are not synonymous with US companies, but to some extent they are. However founded French and UE's metaverse anxieties are, it's worth mentioning recent developments in international politics. On his visit to China, French president Emmanuel Macron declared European countries should keep away from the US–China standoff over Taiwan and warned Europeans not to be American "followers."

Metaverse and China seem like different things (at least, let's hope so), but distancing yourself from the US and "international giants" less so.