“Grab the beach” Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated at the end of June 2021 that the company’s future plans are far more than social media, but to build a meta-universe. Zach Burke declared that he hopes to build Facebook into a meta-universe company in the next five years or so.

On July 29, 2021, Facebook released its audited financial report for the second quarter of fiscal 2021. In the financial report meeting, some analysts asked about Facebook’s investment in Metaverse and related visions, and Facebook executives gave corresponding answers. Facebook said that it will continue to invest in the development and construction of Meta Universe at a scale of about 5 billion US dollars per year.

In addition to Facebook, other big technology companies such as Tencent and Nvidia are also actively deploying meta universe. In March 2021, Roblox, a gaming company invested by Tencent, went public, with a market value of US$38.2 billion; in April, Nvidia announced that it would launch Omniverse, a real-time simulation and collaboration platform for enterprises, a virtual work called “engineer’s meta-universe” platform.

The meta universe has become a “must contend”

Meta Universe has become the next battleground for technology giants. So what is the meta universe?

The concept of meta-universe originated from the 1992 science fiction novel “Avalanche” by American writer Neil Stephenson. In the novel, it depicts a virtual world that allows people to experience the perception feedback of the real world through various high-tech equipment, that is, to create a parallel and perceptible virtual world outside the real world. In the real world, we have our own body, and in the meta-universe we also have our own virtual avatar “Avatar”.

And the best interpretation of the meta universe is “Ready Player One” directed by Steven Spielberg (Steven Spielberg). In this movie, the real world in 2045 is a chaotic purgatory on the verge of collapse. People pin their hopes on the “oasis”-a virtual world in a free super online game covering the world. People only need to wear a VR device to enter this prosperous virtual world that is in sharp contrast with the real world and experience a different life.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

Source: Movie “Number One Player”

According to Roblox, a true meta-universe product should have eight elements:

1. Identity: Have a virtual identity, whether or not it is related to a real identity

2. Friends: Having friends in the metaverse, you can socialize, whether you know them in reality or not;

3. Immersion: being able to be immersed in the experience of the meta-universe, ignoring everything else

4. Low latency: everything in the meta-universe happens synchronously, without asynchrony or delay

5. Diversity: Metaverse provides a variety of rich content, including gameplay, props, art materials, etc.

6. Anywhere: You can use any device to log in to the meta universe and immerse yourself in it anytime, anywhere

7. Economic system: Like any complex large-scale game, Metaverse should have its own economic system

8. Civilization: the meta-universe should form a virtual civilization

To create a virtual meta-world requires many advanced technical support including blockchain technology. For example, Metaverse needs to be able to provide props, art materials and economic systems. The NFT based on the blockchain system can become a new value carrier, making virtual goods assets; by mapping digital assets, from then on, online equipment, decorations, and land property rights have all tradable carriers.

In addition, DeFi’s efficient and reliable financial system can also accelerate the construction of the meta universe. Users’ financial operations in Metaverse are not restricted by geography, economic level, or trust. Through smart contracts, they can be executed automatically and independently, avoiding black box operations.

The combination of DeFi and NFT can expand to the fields of content, property rights, records and identity certification of the meta universe, which helps to create a transparent and autonomous financial system that can accommodate more diversified assets, more complex transactions, and support the civilization of the meta universe. Construct.

Yuan Universe is out of circles frequently, and big factories have laid out one after another

In April 2021, American rapper Travis Scott held an “ASTRONOMICAL” virtual concert in Epic’s “Fortnite” (Fortnite) game, which took players to fantasy scenes such as deep sea and space, with only 10 minutes of singing Yes, it attracted 12.3 million people to watch the game at the same time, refreshing the music Live score of the most players online at the same time in the history of the game, and does not include the additional number of viewers on Twitch and YouTube. That month, the number of mobile game installations of “Fortnite” increased by 6 million and attracted $44 million in gold.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

“ASTRONOMICAL” virtual concert

In May of this year, “Moore Manor” was linked with the Strawberry Music Festival, allowing players to enjoy the holographic concert of the new pants band in the game. In the second anniversary party of Tencent game “Peace Elite”, Hua Chenyu was invited to hold a virtual concert. The game 3D modeled Hua Chenyu’s virtual image, restored the MV of his song “Bullfighting”, and launched a series of player interactions Way.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

Hua Chenyu “Peace Elite” virtual concert

In March 2021, mobile game developer GreenPark Sports reached a multi-year agreement with the NBA and obtained $14 million through the first round of financing. The company will create a virtual space for NBA fans, where fans can enter and watch NBA games together. Fans can also compete in various challenges and equip their avatars in the game with real NBA equipment such as jerseys and hats.

In addition, in “Cyberpunk 2077”, “GTA online” and other masterpieces, you can also see the shadow of “meta universe”. The meta-universe closely integrated with entertainment and game experience is becoming the general trend, and it is gradually showing its energy.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

“Cyberpunk 2077” game screen

The game market is still a fast-growing big cake. A Newzoo report on the gaming industry pointed out that by 2022, consumer spending on games will grow to 196 billion U.S. dollars, with a compound annual growth rate of +9.0% from 2018 to 2022.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

The rapid growth of the game market, source: Newzoo report

Meta Universe is able to integrate games and social interactions, which also makes the giants extremely optimistic about the future of Meta Universe and begin to lay out the huge market that will be generated in the future.

Considering Metaverse as the next growth point of Facebook

Facebook’s meta-universe layout began 7 years ago. In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 billion, and the latter’s virtual reality headset ignited people’s expectations for the future of VR.

In 2017, Zuckerberg expressed the company’s ambitious 10-year game technology goals in the sharing of “Facebook Roadmap for the Next 10 Years”, including artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality. (AR) and new connected products. At that time, Zuckerberg also said that Facebook would invest another US$3 billion in 10 years in an effort to bring AR/VR to hundreds of millions of users.

On September 26, 2019, Facebook officially released the brand new social VR world Facebook Horizon, which is scheduled to land on the Oculus platform in 2020. Facebook said: It will “play an important role in helping to build a broader meta-universe across VR/AR.” Today, one-fifth of Facebook’s human resources are invested in AR/VR business. From 2014 to the beginning of 2020, Facebook has invested nearly $5 billion in AR/VR business.

Now, Zuckerberg has found a more suitable concept to describe his strategic vision for the future of Facebook: meta universe.

At the end of June 2020, Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s future plans are far more than social media, but to build a meta-universe.

On July 29, Eastern time, at the Facebook earnings conference, Zuckerberg mentioned “meta universe” 20 times, which shows how much he attaches to this emerging concept.

At the meeting, Zach Burke also gave a specific timetable, hoping to transform Facebook into a meta-universe company in the next five years or so. He said that the construction of Metaverse is the current vision of many technology companies and even the entire technology industry. It can be seen as a revolution after the mobile Internet, but this is not something that a company can achieve. He said that he will work with other companies, as well as many individual creators and developers to work together to achieve this goal. The meta universe will be a physical Internet, and will be jointly operated by many participants in a decentralized manner.

Facebook is determined to bet on the future, and it does have great advantages in this area, including the world’s largest user scale and a large amount of UGC content (user-generated content), as well as strong capital and resources to support long-term exploration.

Tencent: Crazy sweeping in order to win the battle

Matthew Ball, a long-term researcher of the meta-universe, compares the game to the “entrance” of the meta-universe. And Tencent, which “monopolizes” the social needs of Chinese users, also wants to occupy this entrance, and tries to use the potential energy it has accumulated in social interaction to create a new universe.

At the end of 2020, Ma Huateng wrote in Tencent’s annual special issue “Three Views”: Now, an exciting opportunity is coming. The ten-year development of the mobile Internet is about to usher in the next wave of upgrades, which we call the “True Internet”. The door to the virtual world and the real world has been opened. Whether it is from the virtual to the real, or from the real to the virtual, we are committed to helping users achieve a more real experience.

From the perspective of expression, the “True Internet” in Ma Huateng’s mouth is similar to today’s Metaverse. In Ma Huateng’s eyes, Quanzhen Internet is Tencent’s next “must win” battle.

In March of this year, Roblox was listed on the New York Stock Exchange. This company, which is not well-known in China, had a market value of nearly 40 billion U.S. dollars that day, a 10-fold increase from a year ago. Roblox mainly provides game engines and software tools, developers can use this to create games, players can also “krypton gold” in various games, so developers directly get income. When Roblox went public, it was emphasized in the prospectus that what they want to do is Metaverse, a virtual space that exists in science fiction.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

Roblox stock price trend

The prospectus stated that people play, work, consume, and even make money to “feed back” real life in the virtual world created by Roblox. The real world continues to be virtualized and digitalized, and reality and virtuality are interconnected. This is why Roblox believes that they are not just a gaming platform, but a basis for a richer meta-universe. When people were looking at the meta universe, they discovered that Tencent had already deployed in this field.

In February 2020 Roblox completed the 150 million US dollar G round of financing, Tencent has already participated in the investment, and the exclusive agent Roblox product distribution in China. In addition to being a shareholder of Roblox, the “Meta Universe First Share”, Tencent is also a shareholder of Epic. Epic is the abbreviation of Epic Games Inc., an American video game and software development company. The most famous technology is the Unreal Engine (Unreal Engine) used by its own “Unreal Series” games, and with the help of this engine to develop such as the “Gears of War” (Gears of War) series, “Infinity Blade” (Infinity Blade) and ” “Fortress Night” and other well-known games.

In April 2021, Epic announced that it has received 1 billion US dollars in financing, mainly for the development of Meta Universe. This financing set a record for the highest financing of the meta universe track, and Epic’s valuation therefore reached 28.7 billion U.S. dollars. In August last year, when it completed a financing of US$1.78 billion, its valuation was only US$17.3 billion. In eight months, Epic’s valuation has risen by 65.9%. Tencent owns 40% of Epic’s shares, and there is no doubt that it has become a representative company in the field of Metaverse.

“Thank you new and existing shareholders for supporting our meta universe vision.” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney (Tim Sweeney) said, “This round of investment will help us accelerate the development of “Fortress Night”, “Rocket League”, The social experience in “Jelly Bean Man.”

Nvidia: Launching the meta universe of engineers

In the eyes of Nvidia founder Huang Renxun, with the continuous development of science and technology in the future, the virtual world and the real world will be cross-integrated. Now it is the cusp of the meta-universe world, and NFT will also play an important role in it. “

Nvidia launched the Omniverse beta in October 2020. More than 17,000 customers have tested the experience. Many companies including BMW, Ericsson, Volvo, Adobe, Epic Games, etc. are participating in Omniverse cooperation. Omniverse is an open platform designed for virtual collaboration and accurate real-time simulation of physical properties. It is called the metaverse of engineers. Engineers can make simulations of robots, cars, factories and other things in it. Users and teams can connect major design tools, resources, and projects in a shared virtual space to collaboratively iterate. The complex visualization workflows of creators, designers, and engineers are also changing.

The platform has the following four characteristics: First, realistic rendering effects. Realistic experience at your fingertips; second, audio input, facial animation output; third, amazing visual effects; fourth, action is creation.

BMW Group is the first car manufacturer to use Omniverse to design an end-to-end digital twin of the entire factory. Omniverse simulates a complete factory model, including employees, robots, buildings, assembly parts, etc., making thousands in the global production network. Designed product engineers, project managers, and lean experts collaborate in a virtual environment to complete a series of complex processes such as design, simulation, and optimization before real production of new products, which is said to increase efficiency by 30%.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

BMW uses Omniverse to improve its production system, source: BMW Group official website

In addition, Volvo uses Omniverse for car design; Ericsson uses Omniverse to simulate 5G wireless networks; British architectural design company Foster + Partners uses Omniverse to achieve seamless team collaboration across 14 countries, and so on.

Omniverse, which conducts real-time collaboration in the virtual world, has been rapidly applied on a large scale in various fields due to its high efficiency and low cost characteristics. Under the promotion of Omniverse, Metaverse has taken the lead in the industrial field.

"Grab the beach" Metaverse: not only Facebook and Tencent

 Ericsson uses Omniverse to simulate 5G wireless network, source: Ericsson official website

Huang Renxun has great expectations for the Omniverse platform. He believes that there will be a larger market, a larger industry, and more designers and creators, designing digital things in virtual reality and meta-universe, rather than designing things in the physical world.

At the top computer graphics conference Siggraph 2021 held on August 11, Nvidia released a documentary, revealing the “shocking secret”. It turned out that in the past three months, the company’s founder and CEO Huang Renxun did not participate in every online live product launch conference. Behind this terrifying conspiracy, the virtual collaboration platform Omniverse developed by Nvidia is indispensable. With the combination of RTX ray tracing technology and Omniverse, art creators can break the boundary between real and virtual. RTX ray tracing technology scanned Huang Renxun, obtained thousands of photos taken in the studio from various angles, and then used 3D modeling for post-production. The kitchen behind it is built by art creators on the Omniverse platform, and finally uses AI to combine the two to make it fake.

This unexpected fake “demonstration” directly refreshed our understanding of the meta universe.

Facing arduous challenges in creating meta-universe

Many people in the industry said that although the current financing of Metaverse products is often hundreds of millions of yuan, which seems to have a bright future, the entire industry is still in the early stage, and many components and infrastructure have not been built.

VR/AR, blockchain and other technologies in the meta universe still have a long way to go before they are fully mature. Although there are already VR/AR products that allow us to experience virtual reality well, its ecosystem is still in its infancy, and more engineers are needed to participate in the construction of its ecosystem, and software and hardware facilities need to be continuously iterated to bring more lifelike reality. The effect of blockchain technology has only been developed for more than 10 years, and its ecological technology still has a lot of room for development. The popular concepts such as NFT and DeFi in recent years also need more time to test and iteratively develop.

In addition to technical challenges, the construction of Metaverse will also face some social challenges.

For example, financial issues. In the meta universe, we are bound to face the question of which currency to use. Nowadays, the world is dominated by US dollars, so in the meta-universe, should we also use US dollars? Presumably many non-US users will disagree, so cryptocurrency would be a good choice. However, this choice will make Metaverse an area that is difficult for the government to supervise, and many illegal activities such as money laundering will occur in the future. Allowing many users to reach a consensus on currency is a social issue that Metaverse needs to face.

In addition, the regulation of speech and the control of extreme thoughts are also social issues that Metaverse needs to face. For example, the U.S. election network is full of misleading content. These contents threaten the stability of American society and even generate more social problems. As the next-generation Internet, how to regulate and control the extreme speech and thoughts of the meta-universe is also a social challenge, otherwise the meta-universe may become a hotbed of extreme thoughts.

Author |Chenglin Pua (Malaysia) Editor and Reviewer | Zhaosheng Typesetting | Wang Jilongyan


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