Game Metaverse, “Huo Yan Yan” or “Water Miao màn”?

The Metaverse game was in full swing last year, attracting a lot of money from capital. According to incomplete statistics from Youfan Research, there will be at least 53 Metaverse-related investment and financing events in 2021, of which 16 are engaged in games, accounting for 30%.

This year is even more so. As of the end of May this year, there have been at least 72 Metaverse-related investments and financings, of which 27 are related to games, accounting for 37.5%.

Game Metaverse, "Huo Yan Yan" or "Water Miao màn"?

Source: Youfan Research

The most outstanding performance among major game companies is Roblox, a sandbox game platform known as the “first share of the Metaverse”.

01 Roblox goes public, the Metaverse heats up

Born in 2004, Roblox is a large-scale sandbox game, but it does not produce games itself, but provides a set of simple to complex tools that allow creators to make their own virtual game worlds, and can design economies for these virtual worlds Models and payment models allow creators and platforms to share the revenue brought by this virtual world. 

Game Metaverse, "Huo Yan Yan" or "Water Miao màn"?

Figure: tech digest 

Roblox is more like a large-scale community interaction platform, where everyone has their own digital identity, and players can chat, interact and create with friends through the platform. And the Robux currency obtained on the platform can also be converted with real currency. 

With its unique creator mechanism, Roblox completed a $150 million Series G financing on February 26, 2020, led by Andreessen Horowitz’s Late Stage Venture fund, with participation from Temasek and Tencent. 

As of February 2022, daily active users on Roblox’s platform in February increased by 28% year-on-year to 55.1 million, and participation time increased by 21% to 3.8 billion. 

The huge user base and daily activities have prompted the birth of many game developers on Roblox. According to third-party statistics, Roblox has millions of developers worldwide and more than 10 million products (including unlisted works), which is the largest in the world. UGC gaming platform. 

Roblox’s millions of game content producers are enough to support the economic circulation of the entire community, and its economic benefits are very large, which is one of the reasons why capital is so optimistic about him. 

On March 10, 2021, Roblox landed on the New York Stock Exchange by way of direct listing, becoming the fifth company to choose this way to go public after Spotify, Palantir, Slack, etc. Up to now, the market value has reached 77 billion US dollars at its highest. 

When Roblox went public, it directly stated in the prospectus: “The Metaverse is being realized”. This remark detonated the Internet and technology giants in China and the United States. This advanced sci-fi concept has brought new trends and industries to the silent Internet market. The growth point has caused shocks in US stocks. 

For a while, the information about the Metaverse game heated up rapidly in various capitals. Metaverse games have become a battleground for military strategists, and major companies have a mentality that they would rather kill a mistake than let it go. 

02 From originator to fan

After roblox detonated the Metaverse game, the Metaverse with virtual games as the ecology has become the favored object of today’s capital, many start-up companies are eager to try in the Metaverse field, and “reissue versions of Roblox” in various countries emerge one after another. 

HAEGIN, known as “Korea Roblox”, has received multiple rounds of financing from giants since its establishment in 2017, including investments from Tencent and Netmarble, and just three months ago, it also obtained SK Telecom, a telecom operator under SK Group. (SKT) and the investment arm SK Square each contributed 25 billion won, a total of 50 billion won (about 260 million yuan) of investment. 

More and more dark horses are entering the market, competition is accumulating, and many large technology companies are also starting this market to expand their horizons. 

Among them, the Metaverse game company Epic Games is a latecomer. On April 11, 2022, Epic announced that it had raised $2 billion in a round of financing. In May 2021, it launched the world’s largest and most advanced open real-time 3D creation platform Virtual Engine 5. At present, many well-known game companies such as Electronic Arts, Sony, Ubisoft, and Jiuyou use Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to develop some games. 

Game Metaverse, "Huo Yan Yan" or "Water Miao màn"?

Image: nerdpool 

Furthermore, Facebook, which changed its name to Meta Platforms, has also been acquiring VR game developers such as Beat Games, Downpour Interactive, Bigbox, and others. Meta Platforms has a great advantage in transformation based on Facebook’s user base – its platform has always provided a social platform, and the Metaverse concept is built on social, and the user traffic is huge. 

Why did Roblox detonate the Metaverse game battlefield and cause capital to fall in love? 

Roblox occupies a dominant market position in the United States, with a large user base and high viscosity, and its future growth space for the population is large. The most important thing about the game platform is to attract new people and retain them. Roblox22Q1 DAU was 54.1 million, a year-on-year increase of 28%; April DAU was 53.1 million, a year-on-year increase of 23%. The company compared the impact on DAU growth before and after the epidemic. In the four quarters before the epidemic (19Q2 – 20Q1), the annualized compound growth rate of users was 46%. 

Game Metaverse, "Huo Yan Yan" or "Water Miao màn"?

Figure: Roblox financial report

The number and quality of users determine the life of a game company. Roblox uses a high share ratio to motivate players, so as to ensure the quality of the game, the user’s game experience is better, the higher the fans’ stickiness and engagement, the stronger the user growth of its platform. 

In addition, virtual games perfectly meet the 8 basic elements of the Metaverse: identity, friends, immersion, low latency, diversity, anytime, anywhere, economic system and civilization. The underlying logic and virtual experience presented by sandbox games are recognized as the closest to the concept of the Metaverse. 

The Metaverse elevates the game, and the game helps the Metaverse land. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also said in an interview at the end of the year: “The essence of the Metaverse is the game.” 

Roblox, which entered the game first, is considered by the outside world to be the platform closest to the Metaverse temperament. 

03 A slow domestic market

At the same time, after witnessing the success of Roblox, the Metaverse game sector is also in full swing in China. Tencent established a strategic partnership with Roblox long before it went public. The two parties formed a joint venture company in 2019 and jointly created Roblox’s national service version – “Roblox

At the end of last year, the Chinese version of the Roblox sandbox network completed 200 million yuan in financing, claiming to cut into the Metaverse with games. Wang Shumin, managing partner of ELIX Capital, one of the investors, said in an interview with the Science and Technology Daily: “Whether it is an immersive experience or an economic system, the sandbox is the closest to the Metaverse. The development of box games has gradually opened up the domestic market and gained the attention of domestic capital.” 

Game Metaverse, "Huo Yan Yan" or "Water Miao màn"?

Figure: Qichacha

In addition to Tencent and Bytes, NetEase has also launched the original game community of “Beaver Project”, providing low-threshold game development tools. 

In addition, in the “2020-2021 Metaverse Development Research Report” by Tsinghua University, Mihayou and Lilith were also included in the five typical enterprises of the Chinese Metaverse. The former threatens to create a virtual world in which one billion people around the world are willing to live in 2030, while the latter is developing a UGC creation platform that benchmarks against Roblox. 

According to the “2021 China Game Innovation Category Development Report – Cross-Platform Games” recently released by Gamma Data, the scale of China’s cross-platform game market has expanded year by year. The annual market size is expected to exceed 70 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 15%+. 

However, even though China’s Metaverse game market has such a huge market, the road of Metaverse games in China is long and difficult, and there are still many difficulties to overcome. 

“Roblox”, which was launched in July 2021, was quietly taken off the shelves after only 5 months of operation. The official only issued an announcement inside the game that the file deletion test was over. 

The main reason is that there are certain deviations in the cognition of policy factors and the Metaverse at home and abroad. 

Juvenile game supervision policy is the main reason for the death of “Roblox”. Roblox-based game platforms are mainly young users, and China’s underage game restriction policy has severely impacted Roblox’s performance in the Chinese market, and finally ended in withdrawing from the Chinese market. 

The 2021 “Game Review Scoring Rules” pointed out that from April 1, 2021, low-scoring games will not be able to enter the queuing process for version number approval, and the quality of mobile game products will be improved to a higher level. Since 2019, the monthly average number of games reviewed has dropped from less than 114 to 97 from January to July 2021. As for the Metaverse, People’s Daily Online published an article in November saying: “At present, the hype about the Metaverse concept has spread to listed companies and the secondary market. Some behaviors such as hot spots and speculation are also arousing the vigilance of the regulatory authorities.” 

The domestic Metaverse is in its infancy, and the domestic Metaverse is still in the process of acceptance and understanding, while foreign Metaverses such as Roblox are already very mature. From the development history of the Metaverse, we can see that Roblox was founded in 2006 and launched in 2021. developed for 5 to 6 years. 

Although the concept of the domestic Metaverse can be traced back to “Avalanche” in 1994, the official layout of the Metaverse has only been two years. 

Based on the characteristics of its own game development, China’s Metaverse development path is “steady and improving” compared to Western development. 

Although Chinese Metaverse games are always ridiculed as “bubble assets”, the actual domestic Metaverse + game track has also begun to take shape. Many projects have been launched, such as Baidu Leitzgou, Ali Ant Chain “Xianjian Metaverse” (under research), Baotong Technology “Final Front”, Huawei “Starlight Tower” and other projects have been realized. 

In addition, many well-known game companies have also revealed their determination to develop the Metaverse, such as Sanqi Mutual Entertainment, Mihayou, NetEase Fuxi, Perfect World, Lilith Games , Caiji Cloud Games, etc. 

At the same time, some governments have also begun to speak for the Metaverse. On July 8, the Shanghai Municipal Government issued the “Shanghai Action Plan for Cultivating the “Metaverse” New Track (2022-2025)”, stating that it will focus on cultivating a group of brands with strong appeal. , Original meta-games with international competitiveness. 

Meanwhile, some companies are still on the sidelines as the Metaverse concept is still in its infancy. “It remains to be seen how the Metaverse will be implemented in the game field. The company is also paying close attention to the development of this field.” A person from a game company said. 

However, except for changes in regulatory policies, the domestic Metaverse game market is expected to explode in the future, with a growth rate of up to 60%. According to Titanium Media: When the Metaverse enters the second stage (2030-2050), thanks to the maturity of basic conditions such as VR, AR, cloud computing, 5G6G, and the penetration of blockchain technology into Metaverse games, the content community , The blessing of virtual currency, it is conservatively estimated that it is expected to drive the scale of the Metaverse game market to explode at an annual growth rate of 60%-100%. 

In the long run, the fast-growing market and the gradual liberalization of policies will both drive the Metaverse game forward. This blue ocean with a huge market will become a battleground for military strategists. 

But when the market is on the upswing, ethical and moral questions about the Metaverse come to the fore. 

04 “Violations” in the Metaverse, Ethical Issues Concerned

At the end of May 2022, the “sexual assault” incident in the Metaverse attracted attention. The victim is a 21-year-old woman whose female avatar created in Horizon Worlds , a Metaverse concept online game released by tech giant Meta, was “sexually assaulted” by a male player due to the avatar’s The contact can cause the controller in the player’s hand to vibrate, and the victim feels very uncomfortable. 

Game Metaverse, "Huo Yan Yan" or "Water Miao màn"?

Photo: IT House

According to a Meta spokesperson, players need to turn on the “safe zone” function when they go online, otherwise the user’s personal safety in the Metaverse cannot be guaranteed. 

The more worthy of discussion is whether the method of “setting up a safe zone” is a solution to avoid problems and avoid important problems. 

In terms of this “sexual assault” incident, the victims are basically women, and the “safe zone” function is less like a security measure, but a shackle, just like in the real world, women are required to “dress properly” and “don’t go out at night”. “To achieve “protection” in the name of castrating the legitimate rights and interests of women is undoubtedly putting the cart before the horse. And in the virtual world, most users still hope to have the same experience as in real life, and hope to communicate freely while maintaining “safety”. 

This kind of thing is not an exception. In November last year, there were also female users who were molested by strangers on Horizon Worlds. The Extended Mind surveyed more than 600 VR users about their social experiences and found that 36% of men and 49% of women experienced sexual harassment. 

When the freedom of creation increases, it will inevitably bring some non-compliant things, but the Metaverse is not a place outside the law. If the development of the Metaverse is to be further regulated, it needs to start from the boundary of the body and establish its future development in the Above respect for individual autonomy and bodily integrity. 

The moral issues brought about by the high degree of freedom of the Metaverse, whether it is to strengthen supervision or set up a “safe zone”, the first consideration is the issue of people. This incident is undoubtedly a warning to the Metaverse game, and of course it also prompted the further development of the Metaverse. 

In the blue ocean of the Metaverse, the journey of games to the Metaverse is still difficult and long. Since Roblox first tasted the taste of the Metaverse, a huge market has appeared, many capital have entered the game, and game companies have lined up to enter the sea, whether it is the bottom Both technology and social issues are in urgent need of improvement. 

Right now, before the market is saturated, how to make works that are satisfactory to the market and occupy more market share is the top priority. Once the market is gradually saturated, the next Metaverse game will enter the white-hot stage of competition for hegemony, and it will be even more difficult to break through. 

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