Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Pico is to Byte what Oculus is to Meta. If Byte goes in the direction of Meta, Pico cannot escape the fate of becoming a “drag bottle”.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Pico official website poster

Among the domestic VR devices, Pico is undoubtedly the one that attracts the most attention. Since being under the command of Byte Inc., Pico has started to “jump” in countless large and small screens, and has the momentum of making VR games a new fashion in life.

According to the “Quarterly Tracking Report on the Global AR/VR Headset Market in the Fourth Quarter of 2021” released by IDC recently, the global AR/VR headset shipments will reach 11.23 million units in 2021, and the market will increase by 92.1% year-on-year. Display shipments reached 10.95 million units. Oculus’ share reached 78%, followed by domestic DPVR with 5.1% share, and Pico ranked third with 4.5% share.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

From IDC official website

A circulating “VR Industry Communication Minutes 2204” disclosed that Pico shipped about 160,000 to 170,000 units in the first quarter, and the main model was Pico Neo3. This “Minutes” believes that Pico has made efforts both online and offline, and the growth rate of shipments is relatively fast, and the target of adjusting the sales target to 1.8 million units is likely to be achieved.

Is this really the case? Under the huge publicity, what expectations does Pico have given by Byte?

The “Make a Friend” Strategy: From Geek Gamer to Family

Pico is working to sell VR products to people who don’t play games, which is probably a reason for Pico to set a sales target of 1.8 million units.

From “2022 Treasure New Year’s Goods” and “Playing VR to choose Pico” stars bring goods, to Li Jiaqi and Luo Yonghao’s live broadcast room “swipe your face”, from appearing on CCTV Spring Festival Gala, to becoming the only VR client of the Winter Olympics Central Video, from “Ace Vs Ace” Jia Ling and Yang Di’s ping-pong battle, to “Wang Xi’s Vision VR Concert”, Pico’s exposure method is very simple and rude, that is to choose the channel with the most concentrated traffic to “broadcast”.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Pictures from the Internet

Pico’s operating strategy in Douyin is also very straightforward – national mobilization.

In the Pico VR account, the collection of “Pico’s User Experience Project”, which has reached 8.4 million views, respectively tells how to make a colleague’s father fall in love with VR, how to make a fishing friend fall in love with VR, how to make a cousin fall in love with VR, and how to make a friend fall in love with VR. Amway VR, how to give Amway VR to a blind date, how to make NPC fall in love with VR… all tell the VR entertainment scenes in life in a straightforward manner, so that people of different ages, occupations and interests can see it The fun of VR games can maximize the expansion of the VR crowd.

Moreover, a large part of the VR application scenarios displayed by Pico VR are home entertainment scenarios. For example, grandfather, cousin, uncle, grandfather, father, mother, and small children, VR products usually appear as a kind of home audio and video tools, which also weakens the game attributes of VR products that many “parents” are afraid of, and replaces them with ” New,” “fun”, “realistic”, “dynamic” and other tags.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Douyin operation of Pico VR

Pico’s “don’t make money, make friends” strategy can also be seen in product sales. Since the “industry benchmark” Oculus has lowered the price of the pre-consumer Oculus Quest 2, Zuckerberg chose to expand the scale of VR users at a low cost. This forced other players to follow suit to squeeze profit margins.

Pico Neo 3 consumer-grade products are priced between 2,500-3,300 yuan. At the beginning of the release, the activity of “insist on checking in for 180 days and cash back” was launched (in fact, NOLO and iQiyi Qiyu are also doing the same).After consumers purchase Pico Neo 3 at the original price, they only need to activate and go online for 180 consecutive days (meeting the requirement of half an hour of daily operation time) to return half of the purchase price, which is equivalent to only spending 1000+ yuan to win one. VR all-in-one.

This is very attractive to users. Many users have really persevered. What’s more, they will put the product on the second-hand platform after the cashback, and they can earn a small profit for half a year. Pen.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

from Pico Bar

Whether it is large-scale, indiscriminate exposure, or cash back after punching cards, all kinds of ideas are closer to the fast-moving method, rather than promoting electronic products with a unit price of more than 2,000 yuan.

Online marketing still cannot satisfy Pico’s desire for expansion, and Pico is also deploying experience stores offline. Pico set up its first offline VR brand experience store in Beijing on January 30, 2022. The Pico VR applet shows that the offline channels laid by Pico have covered Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and other cities, and are divided into four ways: self-operated stores, self-service machines, dealers, and operators.

There was a rumor that “Pico will open 2,000 offline stores this year”. After verification by the media, Pico has indeed received that the target of Pico’s offline channels this year is about 2,000, but the epidemic caused the original plan to “change and change” Go”, “It is estimated that it cannot be achieved in actual operation, and it is impossible to achieve it.”

The last one with such a big tone was a restaurant chain brand, but after the outbreak, the entire retail industry has been shrinking, and such an expansion idea is no longer attractive. This also shows that the team’s ability can no longer support Pico’s ambitions.

Although various embarrassing oral broadcasts and hard-working performances often make people unable to resist the irony of “Can sensitive skin be used”, the effect of advertising is obvious. In addition to the increase in shipments, the entertainment trend brought by Pico can also be felt on e-commerce platforms and social platforms. For example, a seller on JD.com posted a video of a child playing ping pong wearing a Pico Neo 3, and some people on Weibo said that their life had changed because of Pico.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

From Weibo Square

Under the strong promotion, tens of thousands of people become new VR players every month, and experience the joy of VR games for the first time (does not rule out the torture of persevering in order to check in). So, how do “old players” feel about Pico?

Real player Hengping: Who is Pico’s opponent?

WGzeyu “entered the pit” of VR in 2016. In the past few years, he has bought a total of four devices, namely HTC VIVE, Oculus Rift CV1, Oculus Quest 2 and Pico Neo 3. He told Fat Whale that he uses Oculus the most. Rift CV1, this is a product released in 2016. He bought it from a second-hand platform for less than 1,000 yuan three years ago.

“Direct connection, no extra delay, accurate positioning, high limit, not easy to lose tracking, light handle, easy to hold and flick your wrist to play BS (Beat Saber), and it is not expensive.”

Beat Saber is a music game that has long occupied the top of the VR game download list. In addition to this game, WGzeyu plays “Oh Shape” more. The Oculus Rift CV1 is the cheapest of the devices he’s bought.

“And his tracking performance is very strong.” WGzeyu made no secret of his love for it, “Beat Saber is the world’s number one Oculus Rift CV1, wait, I just watched it, that person is now second. The first temporarily is the Oculus Rift S.”

He manages a shared document “VR Equipment Detailed Parameter Comparison Table”, which horizontally compared the key parameters of 45 VR equipment, and compared the advantages and disadvantages.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Screenshot of “Comparison Table of Detailed Parameters of VR Equipment”

“Anyway, the data can be found. At the beginning, I made one by myself (the writing was incomplete, and some parts were not described accurately). Later, I found that someone else had made a very good parameter table, and I added it to the editor to improve it.”

Making this watch, WGzeyu did not have a strong purpose, just like he became a VR player, it was also a very accidental thing, “I saw someone else bought VR (glasses), so I wanted to buy a set to try.”

WGzeyu did not count the spending on VR equipment and games in the past 6 years. “There must be 10,000 yuan, but 20,000 yuan should be less.” His concern is the VR game ecology.

At present, Steam’s VR monthly live is between 2 million and 3 million, and the number of active players in China may be less than a quarter of this scale. WGzeyu’s judgment is even lower: “It would be good to have 5%. Now Pico has a strong sense of presence and should be more, but it is not much different from before, and there are still relatively few players.”

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Steam hardware and software survey data for February 2022 released by Steam in March 2022

“The threshold of VR in other countries should be much lower than in China. Relatively speaking, (overseas players) have a lower price burden, and they can play directly when they buy it. ‘Wall’.” He summed up the “advantage” of foreign players:

1. The top devices in search won’t all be a bunch of “spicy chicken” devices.

2. There is no obstacle to use.

Steam is still the largest gaming platform and has the most VR gamers. Although the proportion of players using simplified Chinese is second only to English players among all Steam players in the world, Steam is still a gray symbol in China.

The Douban Steam group currently has 17,512 players. Many players add Steam friends through this group, or form WeChat groups and QQ groups to find friends. Neither the number of members in the group nor the number of posts can explain the prosperity of this circle. The situation in the VR gaming world is even more bleak.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

In 2021, the global daily active population of Steam will reach 69 million (62.6 million in 2020) and the monthly active population will be 132 million (120.4 million in 2020)

“There are still very few VR players in China. Many people don’t know what VR is and what the effects of VR are. As a result, many copycat manufacturers take advantage of the loopholes. The technology is not good but the marketing is good, even if it is ridiculously bad, as long as If it can be bright, it can be sold.” WGzeyu believes that this situation is related to the “fake run rampant” of domestic equipment, and many entrants just want to make hot money and have no belief in “long-termism”. “As long as it can be bright” refers to some manufacturers represented by NOLO, and WGzeyu is quite dissatisfied with this.

“Ordinary users in China have even formed stereotypes such as VR being “expensive”, “halo” and “deficient in content”. These devices are basically inseparable. Especially NOLO and iQiyi, Pico is at least still working hard to optimize, although the gap is still there It’s very big, but NOLO and iQiyi are basically ‘rotten’.”

At this stage, Oculus Quest 2 is still a benchmark in the industry, but it has not yet entered the Chinese market, which frees up a better development space for domestic VR.

WGzeyu admits that Pico is acceptable in China, but he is not optimistic about Pico.

“Even after being acquired by Byte for so long, I haven’t seen much improvement in Pico. The streaming effect is still not good, and the ecology is not good. It can only be said that the tracking is slightly better.” WGzeyu can recognize that Pico is now The “popularity” promotion strategy of “It’s just that although streaming is very ineffective, it’s not unusable. If users haven’t compared other mainstream devices (which most users do), they won’t see how effective it is. Poor, such as lag, loss of quality, frame drops, controller compensation, etc. So streaming can be said to be enough to fool novice players no matter what the effect is.”

But this is precisely what “old players” can’t tolerate. In WGzeyu’s view, VR glasses do not have the most core parameters. What they want is a comprehensive experience, and each item can’t be too bad. If you have to have it, the core technology is tracking. and streaming. However, there is no major update in the industry technology. Many people, like WGzeyu, are still using the products released in 2016, which can explain the problem.

“Whether (new players) are not interested in VR in the future has nothing to do with them, the equipment is sold anyway.”

Recalling the first feeling of buying a VR device, WGzeyu is still very excited, “It’s very cool to play, it’s really like entering a virtual world, I bought a vive at that time, although the clarity is still poor, but the effect is really good it is good.”

The problem of content ecology is also very serious. At present, Pico has more than 300 VR applications, and the number of games that support VR on Steam has reached 6,000. Just like streaming media, richer content can of course attract more users, but what really makes people feel “prosperous” is the generation of some explosive models.

WGzeyu rarely goes online. It’s not that I don’t want to connect, but that I don’t have a suitable “playmate”. “The last few times I was online was when the online mode just came out. After that, I couldn’t find anyone to connect. I personally like it.”

VR games are still too “niche” at present, and the overall atmosphere is relatively cold, which is not enough to discuss the topic of “making explosive models”. Compared with the content ecology, the more pressing issue of VR is how to get more people to join this “party” and become players of VR, rather than players of a certain game.

Games without interaction and “playmates” are boring after all. In this sense, the ideas of Meta and Byte are both correct.It’s just that Pico is too addicted to “brainwashing” marketing, which often makes old players tired.

The day before the publication, WGzeyu shared three pictures on social media, one is a dynamic screenshot of “Go Soso How much Q2 is, and you will know how fragrant Neo3 is” posted by a user, and the other two are screenshots of his own order. , the screenshot shows that Quest 2 and Neo3 cost 1873.4 yuan (tax included) and 2499 yuan respectively. Several players in the comment area expressed disdain for this.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Screenshot from Bilibili

It seems that in the eyes of old players, Pico’s various efforts are funny, but in fact, they are just more willing to express their expectations with criticism, and they are the most active participants and builders of this ecology.

“Recently, after Pico is sold overseas, the ecology should be better. The Neo3 Link released in the European market is actually the Neo3 Pro (this set sells for more than 6,000 in China and 449 euros in Europe). Because it supports direct connection, there will be no There are a lot of problems with streaming. And VD has started to adapt to Neo3 because of this. VD is a very good wireless streaming software, and the effect can beat Pico’s own wired streaming, but I don’t know when it will be released.”

WGzeyu thus rekindled some confidence.

Such a signal is necessary. While attracting new players, Pico also needs to make old players feel the sincerity of the “party” getting bigger and bigger, and the snowball will continue to roll.

Outlook: Will the Metaverse of bytes be set sail by Pico?

To a certain extent, business laws are the opposite of users. If there is no business, there is no such thing as “sincerity”.

At the end of August 2021, ByteDance (competing with Tencent) acquired Pico at a premium of nearly 9 times US$1.5 billion, which became a definite signal for its layout of XR (Extended Reality).

There was a similar scenario a few years earlier: Facebook (Meta) bought Oculus for $2 billion in 2014. Although a few years late, the layout of bytes on the Metaverse is largely “imitation” of Meta.

Pico and Oculus are not pure rivals. Pico has an inextricable relationship with GoerTek. The founder, Zhou Hongwei, is the vice president of GoerTek, and GoerTek is the majority shareholder of Pico. Goertek is one of Oculus’ main foundries.

After the acquisition of Oculus, Meta has continued to increase investment in VR business personnel and content.

In 2017, the Oculus VR department had more than 1,000 employees, and the employees of this department accounted for more than 5% of Meta’s global employees. By the beginning of 2021, Meta’s participation in VR/AR R&D has reached 17% of the total number of employees. In addition to investing heavily to build “Horizon Worlds”, Meta also acquired Beat Games, the developer of “Beat Saber”, and Sanzaru Games, a virtual reality game development company, to expand the content ecosystem.

The Pico team is also rapidly expanding.

According to a late report, many content directors of Douyin have been transferred to VR. Ren Lifeng, director of Watermelon Video, Song Binghua, director of Douyin Variety, and Wu Zuomin, director of Douyin Entertainment, have all been transferred to the VR team. Ren Lifeng, who used to be the product manager of Douyin, officially took over the watermelon video in early 2020 and served as the president of the watermelon video. Song Binghua used to be the project director of Youku’s variety show “Acting School”, and then transferred to the director of Douyin variety show.

On the official website of ByteDance, Pico currently has 325 recruitment positions, including server development engineer, audio and video coding senior engineer, VR video experience designer, Unity3D architect, image algorithm engineer, sensor algorithm expert… Distributed in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and other regions.

Byte is also making long-term investments in hardware and content.

After the acquisition of Pico, ByteDance invested in companies such as Optical Boat Semiconductor, Ruisi Core, Yunmai Xinlian, etc., and increased investment in hardware such as chips, optical devices, sensors, etc. Super-high-definition VR content production, including investment in Zhongqu Technology, which specializes in 3D real scene reconstruction, investment in VR game developer Shi Mengtu Information (Pico CEO Zhou Hongwei became the director of Mengtu Technology), and investment in virtual human company Li Weike Technology.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

ByteDance CEO Liang Rubo’s video appearance at MWC

The picture comes from “China Electronics News”

At the MWC conference held in March this year, Qualcomm President and CEO Cristiano Amon announced an important partnership with Pico and its parent company ByteDance. Pico’s future XR products will be equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Spaces XR developer platform. It is to develop the global XR ecosystem.

Although it is expressly stipulated within Pico that employees cannot mention the “Metaverse”, and even sent an email to clarify this matter, employees are not allowed to bring trends. But whether it’s the headlines of the media coverage or discussions in the investment community, Pico is tied to the Metaverse.

Pico is to Byte what Oculus is to Meta. After quietly working in the VR/AR field, Oculus has become an industry benchmark. The sales of Quest 2 exceeded the total sales of all Oculus VR headsets before. Last year’s shipments of more than 8 million units and a market share of nearly 80% can leave competitors far behind.

But the price is heavy. Meta’s financial report released in February this year disclosed the revenue of the “Metaverse division” Reality Labs for the first time. The financial report shows that Reality Labs will have a net loss of more than 10 billion US dollars in 2021. The full-year profit could exceed $56 billion.

Meta CFO John Sines said that of the more than $10 billion burned, $4.2 billion was spent on staff costs, research and development and sales costs, and Reality Labs’ losses will “increase significantly” in 2022.

If Byte goes in the direction of Meta, Pico cannot escape the fate of becoming a “drag bottle”. How long the money-burning game will last is the question.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

From a Deloitte report: A Metaverse Overview – Vision, Technology and Response

There is still a lot of uncertainty in technology. The current mainstream view is that there are two virtual-real interaction entrances in the Metaverse. One is to use digital tools, including various portable and wearable VR/AR devices. The second is to use brain-computer interface technology to directly provide relevant electrical signals to the human brain through a wireless brain-computer interface for real-time and barrier-free information exchange. These two methods just correspond to the scenes in “Ready Player One” and “The Matrix”.

Both Meta and Byte tend to bet on VR, and Musk may lean on the other. They are all betting on an “unfalsifiable” future.

As a user at station B commented: “The beauty of concepts like the Metaverse is that even if it collapses, there is no evidence to prove that it collapsed. Capital likes it very much, and I will edit it next time. VR is a lesson learned.” From this In a sense, the Metaverse can also be called a postmodern “religion”.

Behind the menacing Pico, how does the Metaverse of bytes beat?

Screenshot of “Ready Player One”

In “Avalanche”, the science fiction novel that created the Metaverse, L. Bob Leif, the mastermind behind the power to destroy the world, spread the “Avalanche” virus in the Metaverse, just out of personal extreme religion complex. When Neil Stephenson wrote the plot of the novel, he probably did not think that such a plot setting would have such a wonderful connection with the reality 30 years later. It is worth mentioning that L. Bob Leif accumulated a huge fortune precisely by monopolizing the limited television industry.

The world in science fiction is full of amazing imagination, but in reality, capital and technology are turning the “brought” imagination into productivity. The seemingly distant philosophical proposition in “The Matrix”-human civilization VS machine civilization, has now become unavoidable.

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