Looking at the metaverse|How far is the real “game metaverse”?

Source: 21st Century Business Herald

Reporter Cai Shuyue reports from Shanghai

Image source: Generated by Unbounded Layout AI

Editor’s note:

Metaverse, a concept derived from science fiction, has become a buzzword in the real world. Around this emerging concept, a practice of production, learning and research is unfolding. In the Crypto transformation, can Metaverse take on the big responsibility? How do these new concepts land in the Chinese context? The Digital Entertainment Research Group of Nancai Compliance Technology Research Institute planned a series of reports “Looking at the Metaverse”, with a view to providing the industry and the public with a stepping stone to understand the Metaverse. In the second part of the series of reports, we will delve into the development pattern of the domestic metaverse game industry, and sort out its current situation, controversy and future.

In the public’s conception of the metaverse, “game” is one of the highest priority landing scenarios. In works such as “Ready Player One” and “Cyberpunk 2077”, “game” has repeatedly become the main carrier of the metaverse, depicting people’s imagination of this frontier outlet.

Since the beginning of this year, good news about the development of the metaverse industry has come from the regulatory side. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Zhejiang, Shenzhen, Henan and other provinces and cities have issued relevant development policies for the Metaverse.

In Shanghai, the “Action Plan for Cultivating the “Metaverse” New Track (2022-2025)” (hereinafter referred to as the “Plan”) clearly states that it is necessary to develop meta-games and support the use of cloud rendering, artificial intelligence, Blockchain and other technologies, R&D and production of programmable and re-development game products. At the same time, focus on cultivating a group of original meta-games with strong brand appeal and international competitiveness.

What is the current situation of the development of the domestic metaverse game industry after experiencing three rounds of industry waves, the “first stock” of metaverse games, Roblox’s valuation surge, the rise of the NFT concept overseas, and Facebook’s official name change to Meta? What questions and controversies still exist? What is the focus of future development?

Domestic layout: self-developed by major players + acquisitions to open up the game universe

Since the rise of the metaverse concept, many domestic Internet companies have participated in it. In addition to in-depth deployment in professional technical fields such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, image processing, and cloud computing, they have also expanded themselves through large-scale investment or acquisitions. The metaverse game layout.

For example, the leading Tencent was confirmed to have established an XR department in February this year, and has already started recruiting internally. In addition to increasing staff in related businesses, Tencent has also successively invested in game companies with metaverse elements such as Epic Games and Roblox. Another giant, Bytedance, in addition to acquiring Pico, a VR headset manufacturer, for 9 billion in August 2021, entered the VR game market with a high profile. In addition, Byte has also acquired VR start-up company PoliQ, Metaverse social maker Wave Particle Technology and other manufacturers.

In addition, companies that mainly focus on the game business are also gradually joining the metaverse track based on their original advantages such as their existing IP reserves and technology holdings.

For example, Mihayou, one of the “Four Little Dragons” of Shanghai games and holding IPs such as “Yuanshin” and “Honkai Academy”, officially established the metaverse brand “HoYoverse” in February this year, which will be launched in Montreal, Los Angeles, Singapore, Offices in Tokyo and Seoul conduct business. In terms of underlying technology, MiHoYo and Ruijin Hospital established the “MiHoYo Joint Laboratory of Brain Disease Center of Ruijin Hospital”, with the main research direction including brain-computer interface. In addition, according to media reports, MiHoYo also established an AI scientist team Anti-Entropy Studio to explore further breakthroughs in artificial intelligence technology.

Giant Network, which is also headquartered in Shanghai, also has related plans for the Metaverse. On November 18, Giant Network stated in an investor interactive platform that the company has identified metaverse games as one of the long-term layout directions, and has established a separate technical product team to patiently explore development paths and solidly promote product research and development.

Beijing-based Perfect World responded to investor questions on an investor platform, stating that the group’s listed companies and non-listed business segments will promote the layout and exploration of metaverse in their respective fields, and release corresponding job demands. The listed company is based on the direction of the main business game content production, and orderly promotes the implementation of metaverse-related business plans. Taking the game products that have been launched so far as examples, Perfectly mentioned the client game “The World of Jade Immortals” and the mobile game “Magic Tower” developed using the UE4 engine.

CMGE, located in Shenzhen, will rely on the IP of “Legend of Sword and Fairy”, and strive to create a metaverse of the IP of Sword and Fairy. The Guofeng Metaverse platform “Sword World”, which will be launched this year, aims to create an open world game of “Sword” with freedom of consumption, transaction and entertainment.

Sanqi Mutual Entertainment, located in Guangzhou, has invested in a number of manufacturers that provide infrastructure and underlying technologies for building the Metaverse, including brain-computer interfaces, optical modules, optical displays, AR glasses, spatial intelligence technology, and semiconductor materials. In June this year, we jointly created the country’s first metaverse game art museum with Zhidu shares.

However, David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, the “first stock in the metaverse”, once proposed that the metaverse should contain eight elements, namely identity, social interaction, immersion, low latency, diversity, any place, economic system and civilization.

21 Reporter observed the games with Metaverse label that have been officially launched in China and found that many games may only have one or two related elements such as social and economic systems, and the other parts are no different from traditional games.

In the eyes of practitioners, what basic characteristics should a real metaverse game have at least?

In this regard, Hu Sen, the founder and CEO of MetaApp, shared his views in an interview with a reporter from the 21st Century Business Herald. He believes that a game with the label of “Metaverse” has two essential differences from the operation mode of traditional games. “The first point is that compared with the numerical growth of the characters cultivated by users in the game, such as fighting monsters and upgrading, strengthening equipment, etc. Metaverse games may pay more attention to the actual experience of users in the game, that is, more emphasis on ‘participation’ ‘.”He says.

The second difference is that in metaverse games based on the UGC model (user-generated content), the content of the game is transformed from being continuously consumed as the plot progresses in the traditional gameplay to being continuously created by players. “If users can participate in the process of building the game’s world view, then the content consumption attribute of this game will be weakened, and there will be no such situation that the content of a game has been updated, and the next new game should be developed as soon as possible. .From the perspective of game developers, this is also a more stable business model.” Hu Sen pointed out.

But he also admitted that, compared to traditional online games, metaverse games may be less likely to do “krypton gold” because in metaverse, theoretically, any elements created by players are “priceable” and “negotiable”. For domestic manufacturers, how to realize commercialization in long-term operation is also a question worthy of in-depth consideration.

Development Controversy: Is a P2E Economic System Necessary?

When it comes to the development of metaverse games in recent years, blockchain games (hereinafter referred to as chain games) are a special form that cannot be ignored. Finance-oriented, gameplay-assisted, is one of the core features of many blockchain games. Currently, “Axie Infinity”, “Decentraland”, and “Sandbox” are more representative blockchain games in overseas regions.

Take the Philippine chain game “Axie Infinity” as an example. From the perspective of gameplay, the game’s gameplay mechanism is similar to Blizzard’s card battle game “Hearthstone”, while the collection and development part is similar to that developed by Game Freak. Handheld game “Pokémon” series released by Nintendo.

21 Reporters experienced this chain game on the real machine and found that, unlike conventional card battle games, there are two more core elements in “Axie Infinity”: one is the pet NFT that can be freely traded between players (namely “Axie”, commonly known as “Axie” among players), a player must have at least 3 Axie to enter the game; the second is the token “Small Love Potion”, which can be freely traded in multiple cryptocurrency market platforms, referred to as “SLP”.

Today, the price of “A crab” has fallen off a cliff. A chain game player told reporters that if you want to buy a crab in May 2021, the minimum price is about 1,300 yuan per crab. Over the past few months, under the influence of factors such as the dissipation of the heat and the completion of the merger of Ethereum, the reporter checked the official purchase platform of “Axie Infinity” before the press release and found that the current minimum price of a crab is only 0.001 Ethereum. It is about 1.14 US dollars (about 8.14 yuan).

It is worth noting that the common problem faced by a series of chain games represented by “Axie Infinity” is that they need to keep influx of new users in order to maintain the continuous operation of their virtual economic system, which is similar to the Ponzi scheme. principle. Sky Mavis, the production team of “Axie Infinity”, has also admitted many times that the continuous influx of new players is a key factor in determining the survival of this game.

There are also opinions that question whether the economic model in blockchain games must exist in the Metaverse. “The core of the metaverse should be virtual reality and virtual social interaction, but whether a virtual economic system is necessary or not is controversial.” An industry insider with coordinates in Beijing put forward his point of view in an interview with 21 reporters, “Chain After Youyou transforms the profit model of traditional games from ‘Play-to-Win’ to ‘Play-to-Earn’, it will only attract investors who want to get real money back, not those who ultimately contribute to the retention rate. players’,” he said.

In the virtual economic model, how to effectively protect users’ virtual assets is also a key issue. Zhang Yanlai, chief lawyer of Zhejiang Kenting Law Firm, pointed out in an interview with 21 reporters that the protection of virtual property security largely depends on the blockchain in the metaverse, so building a credible and reliable underlying blockchain infrastructure is the key to my country’s development. The imperative of the Metaverse.

The strong financial attributes of the chain game itself, combined with its decentralized characteristics, also make it a key regulatory object in the Metaverse industry. On February 18, the official website of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission issued the “Risk Reminder on Preventing Illegal Fund-raising in the Name of “Yuan Universe”” and pointed out that recently, some lawbreakers have been hyping hot spots and using “Yuan Universe Investment Project” and “Yuan Universe Chain Game” ” and other names to absorb funds, suspected of illegal fund-raising, fraud and other illegal and criminal activities. Relevant tactics and risk warnings involve fabricating false metaverse investment projects, defrauding under the banner of metaverse blockchain games, maliciously hyping metaverse real estate to mislead money, and engaging in metaverse virtual currency illegal profit making in disguise.

South Korea, on the other hand, asked Apple and Google to remove games with a “Play-to-Earn” nature from the shelves in December 2021 on the grounds of violating local game regulations. It is reported that the South Korean game regulator has previously canceled the classification of 15 blockchain games. An official of the Korean Game Management Committee (GMC) said that according to the current “Game Industry Promotion Act”, high cash rewards in P2E games can be regarded as prizes, and the value of prizes obtained by playing games in South Korea cannot exceed 10,000 won at a time ( About RMB 52.85).

Breakthrough focus: customer retention, content ecology, technology integration

Although as an important entrance to the metaverse, games have always been highly anticipated by the industry as a key form of implementation, but how far are we from the metaverse game world that truly realizes highly immersive users, complete functions, and mature technologies?

From a physical point of view, there are still certain barriers to entry for wearable electronic devices that allow users to directly access the metaverse, such as VR headsets and AR glasses. A user of a VR head-mounted display once mentioned in a conversation with 21 reporters that although the form of VR games is very novel, the cumbersome equipment, less game stocks and relatively high hardware prices have affected his experience.

The above leads to a problem closely related to industrial design and user experience that must be solved in the development process of metaverse games-how should metaverse games further lower their own threshold and expand their audience on a wider scale?

Hu Sen believes that with the rapid iteration and development of related technologies, the supporting equipment of metaverse games will inevitably move towards “price reduction” and “burden reduction” in the future.

“But rather than reducing prices and reducing burdens, as a practitioner, I actually pay more attention to how many people will favor the device itself.” He pointed out that the key task of metaverse gaming devices is how to retain users. “Judging from the current development speed of technology, the problems of ‘expensive’ and ‘heavy’ may be solved in the next few years. But I am worried that the threshold of this device will be lowered to the same level as the popular game consoles on the market today. At about the same time, after everyone bought it, are they still unwilling to spend too much time on (metaverse games)?” Hu Sen expressed his real concern.

An industry insider also told the 21st reporter that manufacturers who are currently making efforts to develop metaverse games actually have a hidden ambition to be a platform. “What really makes money has always been the platform that provides content, and Metaverse provides everyone with a new opportunity to be a platform.” He also believes that as long as you have mastered the users and content, you don’t have to worry about the lack of payment points in Metaverse games.

However, a key word in building a platform is “integration”. Hu Sen believes that from the content in the metaverse to basic software and hardware, and then to the upstream and downstream industrial chains, it is currently difficult to be completely covered by a certain company. “In the software age, a company may take a long time to drive a certain industry. In the Internet age, a company can connect the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain. In the metaverse era, it is difficult for a single company to do so. If you push this concept from birth to implementation by yourself, the resistance from technology and integration will be huge.” He said.

He believes that, including the “Proposal” announced by Shanghai this time, the introduction of policies supporting the development of metaverse industries in many places will form an industrial cluster effect on the development of metaverses in various places and greatly boost the confidence of practitioners . “The Metaverse itself is a very large production system and an important part of the country’s Crypto economy. If the government can stand up and play the role of ‘link’ in the development of the Metaverse industry and establish a set of rules, then enterprises will The spirit of innovation can be better exerted, and the specific business can be done in a practical manner in terms of social value and underlying production technology, which will play a positive role in guiding the development of the entire industry.” He said.

In addition to games, the metaverse is also seeking to integrate with more fields. In the next issue, we will sort out the social Metaverse products on the market in detail, and conduct in-depth discussions on the following questions: What are the characteristics of the current domestic Metaverse social products? What are the shortcomings and deficiencies in the landing process? Which technologies in the future will provide new development paths for metaverse social?

Produced by: Digital Entertainment Research Group of Nancai Compliance Technology Research Institute
Planner: Cao Jinliang
Coordinator: Zhu Weijing
Researchers: Zhu Weijing, Cai Shuyue, Wu Liyang, Zhang Zitong
Author of this issue: Cai Shuyue
Design: Shan Chen

(Author: Cai Shuyue, editor: Zhu Weijing)

Source of information: compiled from 8BTC by 0x Information.Copyright belongs to the author, without permission, may not be reproduced

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