A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

Looking at the industry from the report: The “same bed and different dreams” of games and the Metaverse.

If you’ve followed the gaming industry in recent years, you’ve probably gotten tired of hearing the term “Metaverse.” In fact, the Metaverse is not a new concept, but it has only been re-hyped in the past year or two – whether it is people’s imagination based on works such as “Ready Player One”, or Facebook’s direct name change to Meta, or some big companies, Veteran producers have invested in blockchain and NFT, and even some manufacturers have launched “Metaverse games” and used them to carry out some activities… We always seem to smell some people who can’t wait to stand on the cusp of the times, lest they fall behind. smell.

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

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In contrast, the Japanese game industry tends to maintain a relatively cautious attitude when it comes to popular concepts. For example, in February of this year, Nintendo President Shuntaro Tanigawa said in an interview that although the Metaverse seems to have great potential, there is currently no simple definition of it, so Nintendo has no plans to join the Metaverse for the time being.

However, being cautious does not mean that Japanese game practitioners are indifferent to the Metaverse. On April 22, on behalf of Kadokawa, Kadokawa Entertainment senior consultant Hamamura Hiroichi delivered a report on the game industry in spring 2022 through an online seminar, with the theme of “Current Situation and Prospects of the Game Industry: Games and the Metaverse of the Same Bed and Different Dreams”. Koichi Hamamura used to be the editor-in-chief of Weekly Famitsu, and currently serves as the vice president of the Japan E-Sports Federation. Every spring and autumn, he will report to analysts and related media on the recent trends in the game industry.

This report mainly summarizes and analyzes the current situation of the game industry in the past period of time. Among them, there are many topics that we are familiar with but always concerned about: Is the overall game industry still growing under the new crown epidemic? How will game services change in the future? What is the relationship between the hot Metaverse industry and games? Some of the answers may be glimpsed in the data presented in the Hamamura report.

The slow growth of the East Asian game market is due to China?

Hamamura pointed out in the report that after the outbreak of the new crown epidemic in 2020, due to the substantial increase in the demand for home entertainment, the global game market has shown a growth trend. From 2020 to 2021, the global video game market will expand by about 6%.

The surge in demand for home entertainment under the epidemic is directly reflected in the changes in the home game console market. In 2020, the demand for consoles on the three platforms of Nintendo Switch (including Switch Lite), Sony PS and Microsoft Xbox in Japan has increased due to the epidemic. Between April and December 2021, both Sony and Microsoft saw their sales increase compared to the previous year, with the Xbox series seeing the biggest increase, with sales reaching 310% of 2020 levels. Nintendo Switch sales in 2021 are only 86.5% of last year’s, but the report believes that this is due to the 2020 “Assemble! The sales volume driven by “Animal Crossing Friends” is too large, which will make the normal sales data in 2021 fall back compared to the previous year.

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

“Assemble! Animal Crossing attracted many new players at home to buy Switch in the early days of the epidemic

The overall game market size of the United States in 2021 will be US$60.399 billion, with an annual growth rate of 8%, setting a record high. Among them, the mobile game market has grown by 14%, and the next-generation console market has also grown significantly. The overall changes in the UK market are similar to those in the US, while in the German market, which also belongs to Europe, Xbox sales are only about 1/3 of PS5 sales. The report believes that this shows that the Xbox audience is mainly concentrated in the US and the UK.

According to data from the United States and Europe, worldwide, the Switch, which is mainly in the home market, and the next-generation console, which is mainly in the high-end market, basically occupy half the market, evenly divided. In Japan, Switch, the representative of home game consoles, has an absolute advantage. In 2021, a total of 6.3 million game consoles will be sold in Japan, of which 5.19 million will be Nintendo Switch, accounting for 82% of the market. In 2021, the top 10 game sales in Japan are all Switch games, and the first is “Pokémon: Crystal Diamond Bright Pearl”, which has sold more than 2.53 million copies. The long-term shortage of PS5 did have an impact on sales, but the report believes that it may also be that Japanese gamers are more inclined to buy the Switch suitable for family entertainment. If this momentum continues, the Switch is likely to break the record of 30 million units set by Nintendo’s handheld DS and become the best-selling console in Japan.

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

The Nintendo DS remains the best-selling game console in Japanese history, with 32.86 million units sold since 2004

However, while the European and American markets maintained rapid growth, the growth rate in East Asia was relatively low.

The report believes that the main reason for the sluggish growth rate of the game industry in East Asia is that it has been almost impossible to release new games in China for a long time. This conclusion may also confirm people’s perception of the development of China’s game industry in the past year: domestic game version numbers have been suspended since August last year, and a new batch was not released until last month, while imported game version numbers are There will be no distribution after June 2021.

The suspension of version number issuance has indeed affected the growth of China’s game industry. According to the data given by the China Audio and Digital Association Game Working Committee in the “2021 China Game Industry Report”, the actual sales revenue of the Chinese game market in 2021 will be 296.513 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 296.513 billion yuan. An increase of 6.40%. For comparison, the sales revenue in 2020 was 278.687 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 20.71%, and the growth rate did slow down considerably. The report believes that the influence of the Chinese market has also affected the development of the game market in the entire East Asia region.

It should also be noted that although the slowdown in East Asia is attributed to the slow growth of the Chinese market, Kadokawa’s report does not provide data on the size and growth rate of the Japanese game market in 2021. According to data released by KADOKAWA Game Linkage, the size of the Japanese home game market in 2021 will decrease by 1.6% from the previous year to 361.3 billion yen. Sales of hardware devices have grown for the second year in a row, but sales of game software have been sluggish.

The wave of game service

One and a half years after its release, PS5 is still in two major problems: out of stock and “game shortage”. Because the PS5 has been out of stock for a long time, the sales growth momentum is not obvious, and the current trend is close to the same period of the PS4 release. The sales of new games are also relatively sluggish. According to the report, among the PS5 games released between March 2021 and March 2022, only FromSoftware’s “Ayrden’s Circle” has sold more than 100,000 copies in Japan. , Compared with the Switch games in the same period, the sales are much lower.

The report believes that the real support for PS5 is those F2P (Free-to-play) games. Including “Fortress Night”, “Apex Heroes” and “Genshin Impact”, these long-term games with free play, paid recharge to purchase props and services have become the pillars of today’s PS5 platform. This trend also shows that game service is currently one of the important development directions of home game consoles.

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

Fortnite’s “Battle Pass” mode is currently one of the most popular payment methods for F2P games

In addition to these service games, the game subscription services launched by various platforms have also seen many new actions in the past year. While the number of Xbox Game Pass subscriptions has grown steadily, Sony has also upgraded its own PlayStation Plus subscription service. Starting in June, premium members can download and play hundreds of PS4 and PS5 games. The most advanced service also includes 240 PS, Nostalgic games for PS2, PS3 and PSP. Amazon’s subscription service Luna is trying to combine its own ecosystem to provide users with enough personalized services, while Google’s Stadia has transformed from an operating platform after its failure and will promote Stadia’s streaming by providing tools to developers. technology. Netflix, a video site, is also focusing on building its own game subscription business.

Not only platforms, but various game makers are also trying to provide subscription services for their own games. For example, Paradox Interactive provides a subscription service for players of Europa Universalis 4. Players no longer need to buy out the season pass or DLC at one time, and can choose to rent these additional content for a monthly fee. Rockstar Games has also begun to provide subscription services for the online mode of its games. Members who pay monthly can get in-game currency and member-limited item discounts.

Games, Metaverse and NFTs

Regarding the Metaverse, different manufacturers have their own ideas on how to create such a “virtual space in the network”. Hamamura Hiroichi pointed out that compared with IT companies wading into the Metaverse, game companies have to go further. On the road to promoting the Metaverse, the “dual-track development” of IT and games may be the right way.

In what form should the Metaverse exist? Most of the platforms seem to be building VR or 3D spaces in terms of what’s out there. But at the same time, Niantic, the company responsible for the operation of “Pokémon GO”, doubted the feasibility of the Metaverse in a VR environment and insisted on its own AR technology that integrates virtual and real spaces.

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

It has been online for nearly 6 years, and “Pokémon GO” is still operating stably

However, no matter what technology is adopted, it seems that the platform for providing Metaverse services needs to provide users with a virtual space in which people can live and communicate freely, and also needs to provide services so that users can interact with the real economy. Activities are freely linked. This demand for economic services within the Metaverse has spawned the widespread use of NFT technology. The report argues that this decentralized form of money is important to the Metaverse.

Hiroichi Hamamura explained that if you want to understand the Metaverse and NFT, you must understand what PtE (Play to Earn) is, that is, to obtain real-life benefits by playing games. The report uses “Axie Infinity” as an example to explain the operation mode of PtE – players can spend time in the game to cultivate monsters, and then sell their monsters to make money. In addition to the above-mentioned narrow PtE, the report also gives a more diverse definition, including designing and creating in-game skins, levels, and modules to gain revenue, and benefiting from live broadcasts, uploading videos, etc., which can also be counted as PtE. .

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

Because they can really make money in the game, some people’s profession is to play “Axie Infinity”

In order to establish this free trading market, many game manufacturers have begun to explore the NFT field, including Square Enix, Ubisoft and Take-Two, many companies in the traditional game field have begun to test the water NFT, trying to get a piece of the Metaverse craze.

But the reality is that users don’t buy it. Including Team17 and GSC Game World, many companies’ attempts on NFT have been met with user backlash. The attitude of developers is also unclear. At this year’s Game Developers Conference, when developers were asked about their attitude towards introducing NFTs or virtual currencies into games, more than 70% of the developers expressed “no interest”.

The report believes that the biggest reason that hinders players and users from accepting NFTs is that there are too many risks in the future of the Metaverse itself, the economic system in the game is too fragile, and the huge market fluctuations caused by speculation can easily affect players’ normal enjoyment in the Metaverse. In the process of life, you may even face the crisis of bankruptcy at any time. Hiroichi Hamamura believes that if the Metaverse cannot solve this problem and cannot guarantee the safety and stability of free transactions, then companies will not be willing to participate in the market in the Metaverse, so how to solve these problems is what the Metaverse needs to face at present. important topic.

Games and Metaverse’s Same Bed and Different Dreams

Whether it is the growth in demand for home game consoles during the epidemic, the new actions of game subscription services, or the new trends in the Metaverse and NFTs, all of them illustrate one thing: the game industry is changing today, and the goals of game manufacturers are gradually changing. Shift from “providing players with fun games” to “providing users with social tools”. When players choose a game, they don’t just focus on whether the game is fun, but more on whether they can communicate and get in touch with other people through the game.

The report concludes that it is this change that has allowed the game industry to continue to develop and expand on the premise of its current scale.

Hamamura Koichi pointed out that in addition to the fun of the game itself, the convenience, topicality and importance of community support of the game itself are gradually increasing. In this regard, the development of the Metaverse and the community of the game are indeed on a similar path, but players’ resistance to the Metaverse is also real. In fact, although the Metaverse industry has achieved expansion in a short period of time, there are still many problems that need to be solved, such as the shoddy manufacturing of the Metaverse – different companies have mass-produced many Metaverse projects, but none of them can attract users, The formation of a stable community makes the original community vision of the Metaverse come to nothing. On the other hand, the eagerness to introduce NFT transactions, but frequent security and stability problems, can also be regarded as the “innate” flaw of the Metaverse.

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

The NFT theft incident has caused users to worry about the security of NFT transactions

From this point of view, despite the many connections between the Metaverse and game community and service, the game and the Metaverse are still in the stage of “same bed and different dreams”. If a game that already has a large number of users wants to realize the transition to the Metaverse, it needs to import NFT transactions while maintaining the worldview framework, and slowly complete the transfer to the Metaverse space while solving the stability problem of the free market; by IT The convenient and easy-to-use virtual space services built by enterprises still need more interesting content to attract users to stay in this community. The scale of the universe.

In fact, there are indeed some Japanese Metaverse projects that try to use the characteristics of Japan to make these virtual communities more attractive. For example, REALITY, which operates a virtual live broadcast app and provides users with a virtual image capture platform under the GREE Group, tries to use Japan’s virtual anchor culture to attract more audiences for the Metaverse. In REALITY’s Metaverse world, users can easily Make your own Japanese animation-style character images. This animation-like world view attracts more young users who love Japanese ACG culture. After all, who wouldn’t want to play cartoon beautiful teenagers and beautiful girls in a virtual space?

A year later, the Japanese game industry is also talking about the Metaverse

REALITY’s CEO DJ RIO is also a two-dimensional beautiful girl in the virtual world

Looking to the future

It is not difficult to see from the report of Koichi Hamamura that a considerable number of Japanese game practitioners are still cautious about future changes in the game market and the development of the Metaverse, especially the Metaverse, which uses “same bed and different dreams” to describe the game and the Metaverse. The relationship that is compatible on the surface but divergent in reality can be described as precise.

In general, whether it is a community-based and service-based game, or a Metaverse that wants to build a large virtual space, it is still in the process of exploration. The challenges facing the game and the Metaverse are different, and it may take a long time to solve them. NFTs may eventually be accepted by players in some form, but that requires more measures to ensure their stability and security.

How will the game industry develop in the future? How else will the relationship between community-based games and the Metaverse change? Will the Metaverse conceived by IT companies and game companies become a virtual world that can operate organically? The answers to these questions will take more time to answer. Valve founder Gabe Newell believes that the existing Metaverse is no match for an online game like Final Fantasy XIV, which has been in operation for nearly 10 years. In Japan, the exploration of the Metaverse and games may have just begun.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/a-year-later-the-japanese-game-industry-is-also-talking-about-the-metaverse/
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