How big is the gap between China and the US dollar in cosmic infrastructure?

The gap between the domestic top Metaverse manufacturer Pico and the American top manufacturer Meta Quest is not just as simple as a 15-fold difference in sales.

2022 is a turbulent year for the Metaverse industry. In terms of upstream hardware, new products at home and abroad have been released one after another, and the three major technology paths have gradually become clear; in terms of downstream applications, consumer-level application scenarios have continued to expand, and video, games, and social networking have been promoted simultaneously, and the Metaverse is about to usher in a “singularity” in China.

The so-called Metaverse singularity is a theory put forward by Meta CEO Zuckerberg at the 2018 developer conference, that is, when the number of users grows to a certain scale effect, VR hardware and applications, and content developers can continue and stably develop. Profit, and then promote the leap-forward development of the VR ecosystem.

As of November 2021, the cumulative sales of Meta’s flagship product Oculus Quest 2 has exceeded 10 million units, while domestic head VR hardware Pico Neo 3 has seen rapid sales growth since its release in May 2021, and its shipments in the first quarter of 2022 The volume has reached 370,000 units (Quest sold about 5.9 million units in the quarter, 15 times that of Pico).

Although China and the United States are currently in the first echelon in the Metaverse ecology, one is on the eve of the singularity, and the other is just after the singularity, but the gap between the two is not too big. Taking Pico and Oculus Quest as an example, in terms of hardware performance, the two are almost the same in terms of optics, interaction, display and other parameters, but in terms of content ecology, the latter is far richer than Pico. In terms of quantity, there are 371 Quest platform games and only 191 Pico games. In terms of quality, Quest is gradually becoming the platform of choice for leading VR developers, while Pico’s content ecosystem is still thin. There are no hits in the first and exclusive content, and there are relatively few IP games.

Then, with the accelerated arrival of the “singularity” of domestic VR hardware shipments, under the background of the gradual increase in the hardware penetration rate, is the positive cycle of domestic “VR hardware-content” expected to be gradually established? As the core of the VR content ecology, will games open up a broader space for development?

01 Towards a mature VR market

In 2021, VR hardware shipments will exceed 10 million singularities, and in 2022, the ecosystem will start in an all-round way. We have seen that with the entry of domestic Internet companies such as ByteDance, Tencent, and iQiyi, new products at home and abroad have been released in hardware products. Synchronized advance.

At the hardware level, the product form and technical path of VR hardware are gradually becoming clear. In the first half of 2022, a total of 9 VR/AR hardware will be released or listed globally, and the intensive release cycle of new products will officially start in the second half of the year. In July, domestic YVR and Skyworth Digital successively released two VR all-in-one machines, both of which use the latest 6DoF and Pancake (short focus) technologies, and the high-end VR all-in-one Cambria and Pico Neo series of Meta’s high-end VR all-in-one products are likely to be adopted. this technology. On the one hand, as major manufacturers continue to enter the market, the centralized launch of consumer-grade VR hardware is expected to further build users’ minds; The center continues to iterate.

At the content ecological level, games, videos, and social networking are flourishing. Just like the development cycle experienced by consumer electronic devices such as game consoles, PC computers, and smartphones, the prosperity of downstream applications and content ecology is the key to VR opening up a trillion-dollar market space. Therefore, after the hardware gradually matures, content Ecology has also become the focus of major manufacturers to explore the traffic entrance of the next generation of mobile terminals.

At present, games are still the core of the VR content ecology and even the entire Metaverse content ecology. As the most interactive content form, games are naturally adapted to the interactive properties of VR hardware. According to Omdia data, VR game revenue will account for more than 80% of the total VR content revenue in 2021. At the same time, film and television and social networking have also begun to probe. For example, VR has been implemented in the live broadcast field in China. Against the background that offline performing arts activities were blocked during the epidemic, Faye Wong, Mayday, Wang Feng, etc. held VR concerts one after another. At the company level, after ByteDance acquired Pico, the former head of Watermelon Video, Ren Lifeng, head of Douyin Variety Show Song Binghua, and Douyin Entertainment Director Wu Zuomin successively transferred to Pico, enriching Pico’s VR video live broadcast ecosystem.

02 Where is the gap between China and the US VR ecosystem?

First of all, at the hardware level, there is only a gap but no difference in the VR ecosystem between China and the United States. Take Pico and Quest as examples. Currently, Pico and Meta’s all-in-one VR headsets are Pico Neo 3 and Quest 2, respectively. From the perspective of hardware performance, the two are similar in weight, interaction method, and optical display. In terms of performance alone, the Quest 2 is stronger, but the next generation of overseas platform Protocol recently exposed through an FCC (Federal Communications Commission) document. The relevant parameters of the product Pico 4 may be flattened. Pico 4 adopts the latest Pancake solution at the optical device level, supports the user’s face and eye tracking (Pro version) at the interactive level, and supports the user’s real environment at the display level. It may become the world’s first consumer-grade color perspective VR all-in-one machine.

In terms of content ecology, the gap between China and the United States is huge. In terms of the amount of content, there are 371 Quest platform games and only 191 Pico games. Among the world’s major VR game platforms, the PC platform Steam has the largest number of VR content, with a total of 6,574 types, of which 5,468 are exclusive content. The Quest platform has a total of 371 types of content, and the third-party platform Sidequest, which has a lower level of review, has 3,352 types of content; while the Pico platform has only 191 types of content. From the perspective of content growth, the Sidequest platform has the fastest growth rate, with a total of 1,068 new contents added in 22H1. The Quest official platform still maintains a strict review system, with only 41 new contents added in the first half of the year. A total of 42 new contents have been added to the Pico platform, most of which are from overseas.

In terms of content quality, Quest is gradually becoming the platform of choice for head VR developers. Quest continued to attract several high-quality VR games as launch or exclusives in 22H1, including Cities: VR, the adaptation of Cities : Skylines , which sold over 10 million copies worldwide. In addition, the sales and reputation of the Quest version of the wilderness survival game “Green Hell VR” is even higher than the Steam VR version with more complete content. In contrast, Pico’s content ecosystem is still thin, there are no popular titles in the first release and exclusive content, and there are fewer IP games on the platform. In 22H1, there are only “After Death: Winter” and “Demio: Dungeon Wonder” Tan” two.

However, at present, many domestic manufacturers have deployed VR game research and development. For example, Unknown Worlds, invested by Perfect World, launched the VR game “Deep Sea Trek” in 2016, which was released globally as the first game after the listing of Oculus Rift. Another example is Kaiying Network, which jointly established Shanghai Chenni Network with Huanshi Technology (Jiashan) in April 2022, focusing on the direction of VR games, but the prosperity of Rome is not a day’s work, and the country needs to catch up with or even surpass the US dollar. The ecological environment of the universe will take a long, long time, so let the bullets fly for a while.

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