Metaverse became popular overnight. How to understand the value and potential of the “virtual world”?


Metaverse is currently one of the hottest concepts in the field of technology and games. Understanding Metaverse will help us better understand the darlings in the crypto industry that are also in the spotlight: NFT and blockchain games.

Original title: “Why hasn’t Metaverse been popular in these two days?” |【Long and Wei low-key production】》
Written by: Jingwei Venture Capital

When we originally planned to write this article, the concept of Metaverse was still very popular, and it was one of the hottest concepts in the technology industry and the game industry.

In the past month or so, a large number of domestic VR/AR companies have announced huge financing, whether it is a hardware company, a platform company or a content company. In addition, Valve and Mihayou are both studying brain-computer interfaces, and Ma Huateng, the CEO of Tencent, the largest gaming giant, also emphasized that the Internet has entered a new era in his internal speech last year. He defined it as a true Internet. Jonathan Lai, an analyst at Silicon Valley’s well-known investment fund a16z (Andreessen Horowitz), also wrote recently that Metaverse will disrupt the way humans socialize.

However, opposition to Metaverse has always existed, just as many people are not optimistic about VR, cloud games and so on. Some entrepreneurs said that when Metaverse has become an over-mentioned topic, he was wary of the chicken feathers after the VR craze that year.

So, what exactly is Metaverse? Why did Metaverse suddenly become popular? Has the Metaverse era really arrived? The following is the original manuscript we plan to publish, Enjoy:

What exactly is Metaverse?

Metaverse, translated into Chinese as Metaverse, was first proposed by science fiction writer Neal Stephenson in his book “Avalanche” in 1992. This word is composed of two parts. Meta means totality, and the suffix –verse means place or world, similar to the concept of “universe”.

In the description of the novel, Metaverse is a virtual world born out of the real world, parallel to the real world, mutual influence, and always online. It is lifelike and immersive. People can do anything in this virtual world, except eat and sleep.

The movie “Top Player” depicts what Metaverse looks like. It has a fully operational economy, spanning the physical and digital worlds. Data, digital objects, content, and IP can all pass in Metaverse. Many users and companies will create content and products to make it more prosperous.

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?The movie “The Number One Player”

The American drama “Western World” is also a case of Metaverse. Users can enter a world with their friends and experience a unique and personalized travel every time. In this HBO program, human tourists visit the park to host and interact with a bionic person with personality and background story created by AI. The host will give feedback on visitor behavior, bring impromptu plot and a world that evolves in real time based on visitor choices.

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?“Western World”

Of course, the concept of Metaverse seems too big and contains too many things. Roblox CEO, who just went public, gave several definitions of Metaverse in his mind: identity, friends, immersion, low latency, diversification, anytime, anywhere, economic system, and civilization.

Baszucki said that the real meta-universe has 8 different characteristics. You need to have an image of a virtual identity, which can be a rock star or a fashion model. This is a big selling point of Meta Universe.

You can make friends with real people and socialize in the metaverse. This must be “immersive” or make you feel like you are somewhere else and lose your sense of reality. You should be able to log in from anywhere, no matter which country or culture you are from, and you need a low-latency link, whether at school or at work.

The meta-universe must be low-latency, which means you can go anywhere at any time. If you study the history of ancient Rome at school, you can teleport to there within a second and start a journey of ancient Rome with your classmates. It must have a lot of differentiated content to support people’s long-term interests. You need an excellent economic system to ensure that people can live in the meta-universe, not just programmers, but also artists and game planners. Ultimately, you need security and stability so that people can get together and improve digital civilization.

Based on the above, talented netizens made such a picture:

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?

Why is the game world the forerunner of Metaverse?

For a long time, Metaverse was just a cool concept. Due to the lack of necessary infrastructure, computing power and interface equipment, the Metaverse described in novels and science fiction movies has not yet been implemented.

According to Stephenson’s original vision, the key to Metaverse lies in more advanced input and display technology. The medium of realization may be haptic gloves-allowing gestures as input, and retina display-projecting images of the virtual world directly onto our retina.

The CEOs of some well-known foreign game companies said that Metaverse will not appear overnight. “Metaverse before” and “Metaverse after” will not have a clear distinction, and it will not be built and run by one company. Metaverse will be the result of the continuous integration of many independent tools, platforms, and a world supported by shared infrastructure, standards and protocols.

In fact, the predecessor of Metaverse has evolved from various games and other online communities.

For example, a game called “Second life” is already very close to Metaverse. Because it is not a game focused on “winning”, but an open world, with the main purpose of exploration and communication. In “Second Life”, some items are even traded in Linden dollars, the world currency, and the economic scale is similar to that of many medium-sized cities. Many companies have set up promotional spaces within Second Life to advertise their products and allow consumers to preview their models before buying.

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?

It can be said that the real Metaverse is not only an independent world, but a world closely connected and complementary to the real world. It allows a person on one side of the earth to meet a person on the other side in a virtual environment and have a normal conversation as if they were in the same room.

In addition, in order to achieve the spontaneous experience required by Metaverse, the upgrade of AI-driven social methods is also indispensable. But for now, we are still in the stage where users produce content, which is the second part of the pyramid below. In the fields of TV, movies, music, and games, most popular entertainment is created by professional creative teams. Most of these products are created for individual user groups, which means that even if friends join, the experience It remains largely unchanged.

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?The four stages of content creation

Why did Metaverse suddenly explode overnight?

The well-known Japanese anime “Sword Art Online” also describes a pure VR virtual game completely out of the real world, which is actually a Metaverse. The first year of the story of “Sword Art Online” is 2022. Of course, this may just be a coincidence.

Going back to the time when the Metaverse is about to open in 2021, how is its progress in reality?

Aside from the specific gameplay and operating platform, let’s look back at the two most topical games last year, “Cyberpunk 2077” and “Original God”. The open world is their biggest label.

And also due to various deficiencies in the open world experience, Cyberpunk 2077’s reputation collapsed… Even after that, many industry professionals began to explore whether the traditional console game industry simply relied on the business model of 60 US dollars per share, whether it can really afford it. Raise our ideal “open world” research and development costs.

On the other hand, in the past more than a month, a large number of domestic VR/AR companies announced huge financing, whether it is a hardware company, a platform company or a content company. In addition, Valve and Mihayou are both researching brain-computer interfaces, and the largest gaming giant Tencent, CEO Ma Huateng last year, in an internal speech, also emphasized that the Internet has entered a new era, and he defined it as a true Internet.

Why did Metaverse suddenly become popular overnight?

First of all, the turning point of technological maturity seems to have arrived. The VR/AR/MR, AI, NLP, computer vision rendering, cloud virtualization, brain-computer interface and other technologies required by Metaverse have all developed to a certain stage. This laid the foundation for the landing of Metaverse.

VR is an important part of the realization of Metaverse. It has its own advantages. From manual tracking, face tracking, and full-body tracking, VR can make people feel that the avatar in this world is “I”, which allows individuals to have a strong sense of identity. . At this moment, users can really take and embrace this new world seriously.

People choose Metaverse because the real world experience is not good enough. In the new world of VR, users will find that it brings a lower cost and more efficient entertainment life. For example, one second shuttle to the mountains to ski, go to the music festival to dance, go to the beach to surf, etc… You can experience a different life in one night. Users can also get a lot of things that they dare not do and have no experience in real life. When VR can support users to have a more efficient lifestyle, and can subvert existing rules to experience new things, users will feel that this world is more fun than the real world.

AI is also indispensable in the development of Metaverse. The reason why the virtual world is more attractive to users than the real world is that the content and experience of the virtual world are much higher in quantity and quality than the real world. AI is an important tool to help improve creative efficiency. To quote a passage from the article “Meet me in Metaverse” by Jon Lai of Silicon Valley venture capital a16z:

“Although we are still in the early stages, AI tools still have the potential to make content creation more user-friendly and help human creators focus on advanced design and plot. With the use of these tools, the quality and quantity of UGC will increase. Over time The migration of AI models, the improvement of AI models, and the quality of AI-created impromptu content may one day even exceed human-created content, paving the way for us to socialize and consume more time in the virtual world.”

In addition to technical maturity, Metaverse already has the possibility of commercialization. Games, videos, live broadcasts, and integrated commercial formats all make it possible for the industry to directly obtain large-scale revenue from the user side. The autonomy of e-commerce, the rise of “paid” social media, and the popularization of decentralized, distributed, and remote productivity technologies also confirm that a Metaverse with social, transaction, and remote communication functions already has the basic conditions.

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?

Finally, some typical products representing the company let us see the embryonic form of the virtual world. For example, Roblox is a children’s version of “meta universe”. Children and teenagers can create their 3D worlds and games on it. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange on March 10, 2021, with a market value of over US$40 billion on the first day of listing. Eleven months ago, the company’s valuation was only 4 billion U.S. dollars, which has doubled 10 times in less than a year.

Metaverse became popular overnight, how to understand the value and potential of the "virtual world"?

Although Roblox, which has a simple style and rough environment, cannot be compared with our ideal metaverse, at least Roblox has gradually built a basic Metaverse framework-virtual field, reality clone, social network, economic system, and recently The explosive growth of Roblox has also injected more possibilities into Roblox.

Statistics show that Roblox’s user usage time increased by 124% from 13.7 billion hours in 2019 to 30.6 billion in 2020; daily paying users increased from approximately 184,000 in 2019 to approximately 49 million in 2020. It is worth noting that currently, more than half of Roblox users are younger than 12 years old, and at the same time exhibit extremely high user stickiness.

The virtual world is occupying more and more users’ time. Perhaps one day, a person spends most of his time in the virtual world. The virtual world has become the real world.

Has the Metaverse era really arrived?

In fact, opposition to Metaverse has always existed, just as many people are not optimistic about VR, cloud games and so on.

An investor who looks at the direction of VR said that he recently joined a startup company in the direction of Metaverse. The day before Roblox went public, he posted such a circle of friends:

On the eve of Roblox’s listing: As Metaverse has become an over-mentioned outlet, I am glad that it can drive more people to participate, and it also makes me wary of the turmoil after the VR craze that year. Most people can catch up with the next after spending one outlet, leaving those who truly believe in it and continue to move forward.

Face reality and stick to ideals.

And Liu Wei, CEO of Mihayou, who is building a one-billion-person online virtual world, made the following comment in a circle of friends about Metaverse:

The best way to predict the future is to create.


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