Metaverse, the mirror of the virtual human To B track

Goodbye, the industry’s first stock; hello, the industry’s first virtual person.

Over the past year, nearly the entire industry has claimed a relationship with the Metaverse.

Just the “virtual human” known as the aborigines of the Metaverse, this subdivision track has already excited geniuses and madmen. In the words of Feng Zheng, vice president of Shunwei Capital, “it is better to enter the virtual human industry early than to enter later, and it is better to enter with a lot of money than to enter lightly.”

No one wants to seize the opportunity. New players are running into the market, giant companies are coming, investors can’t sleep at night, and ordinary people are starting to wear virtual headgear to make stalks. No one wants to miss this rare new outlet. Although wind-blown pigs can fly, wind-blown foam will also crumble.

01 What does virtual human mean to the Metaverse?

If you separate the concepts of “virtual human” and “Metaverse”, you may not feel that the two are closely related.

Because in the thirty or forty years before the birth of the concept of the Metaverse, virtual humans have been all over the film and television works, but when the two are combined, the “virtual human”, which once belonged to the “extremely segmented track” of the entertainment industry, suddenly took advantage of the The wind is up. So what does virtual human mean to the Metaverse?

One consensus is that virtual digital humans are an indispensable factor in the development of the Metaverse.Because in the natural world, humans are the spirit of all things, and in the Metaverse world, virtual humans naturally become the core element. Xiaoice COO Xu Yuanchun once said that the future development of human beings must coexist with AI virtual humans. In the future, there will be a large number of virtual humans around our lives, and the number may be 10 times the current population. When the time comes, we will not discuss its business model.” Cheng Weizhong, CEO of Zhongke Shenzhi, who has been deeply involved in the virtual human industry for at least 5 years, pointed out that by 2030, virtual people and real people will be indistinguishable, and the people around us will be indistinguishable. There will also be plenty of virtual humans.

What they all agree on is that virtual avatars and virtual humans of real humans are ordinary aboriginals of the Metaverse, creating new emotional connections and social relationships with each other in their work, life, and interactions.

Another reason why virtual humans are valued is that the development of the Metaverse is gradual. Because the Metaverse cannot enter the Ready Player One era overnight, but the trend is doomed to be irreversible. Even if it is not yet possible to accurately judge the final format of the Metaverse, some deterministic scenarios have emerged. The virtual human with years of technology accumulation is a typical example. The virtual anchors, virtual idols and other products that have already landed may make virtual Humans became the first to enter commercialization in the big territory of the Metaverse.

Metaverse, the mirror of the virtual human To B track

Like the elegant and friendly virtual anchor of the Winter Olympics, the virtual person Li Weike invested by ByteDance, the virtual idol girl group A-SOUL of Lehua Entertainment, and Cui Xiaopan, a virtual employee of Vanke… Fake virtual people are being born, and a lot of data and reports have jointly pushed up everyone’s expectations for virtual people. Angela, a partner of Yuanyi Capital, said, “In the past, everyone wanted to be the first stock of XX in the listing. This has been out. Now it is more popular to promote the first virtual person of XX in the industry.”

02 In the virtual human industry chain, who are investors more optimistic about?

Under the frenzy, some people made money inexplicably. For example, a company called Jinke Culture changed its name to “Tom Cat” in September this year. People associate this name with the ancient virtual IP “Talking Tom Cat”, and forcibly classify it as a Metaverse concept stock. It didn’t take long for the “Tom Cat” company’s stock price to rise by more than 50%.

“If you look at the latest batch of companies, you can find that either the team failed in making games, or the team failed in film and television. When they saw that the track was hot, they rushed in, but most of them didn’t take the virtual reality seriously. People.” Zhang Jiamin, founder of Manfu Club, the producer of the virtual human “Ha Sauce”, said in a previous interview that the popularity of the Metaverse concept has made virtual people out of the circle, and everyone can come, as if everyone can be a virtual human , but many IPs on the market claim to be virtual people, but the quality is uneven.

Under this prosperous market of “splashing flowers gradually becoming charming”, the Metaverse has also become a mirror of demons. There are many smart people in the mirror, but also many stupid and bad people. Because in the definition of CITIC Securities, virtual people can be divided into personality type and practical type, but no matter from any point of view, they are not the same as “human”, a creature that can make decisions independently.

Metaverse, the mirror of the virtual human To B track

The reason why the NPC named GUY in “Out of Control Player” can become the virtual human that everyone yearns for is because he is “out of control”, and he will not interpret content or realize functions according to the prescribed paradigm like a virtual human like now, like a “virtual person”. puppet”. It is also because of “out of control” that he has become a “virtual person” in the true sense.

Although most players on the market are still far away from real virtual humans, the track is hot and there is a lot of money. Even if there is no strong technology now, there is a chance of success if you enter the game first. Up to now, there are more than 160,000 virtual human-related enterprises in China. In less than a month in 2022, nearly 100 financings have been raised in the virtual human field, with a financing amount exceeding 400 million.

Metaverse, the mirror of the virtual human To B track

Recent core financing projects of the virtual human track

Whenever a company finishes drawing the attractive pie of virtual humans and the Metaverse, it almost always emphasizes that “it is still in the initial stage of the Metaverse, and it may be more than 10 years before the full Metaverse”. So why are investors spending so much money on virtual people now? Where is the difference in their positive expectations?

From the second half of last year to this year’s investment direction of virtual human, virtual human is not just a feast of To C, but also the driving force to accelerate the construction of To B. More investors only recognize “infrastructure” projects. One investor said, “It is logical to buy NVIDIA, and it is logical to buy Qualcomm, including buying a VR equipment manufacturer. If it is the world’s largest VR equipment processor, it may be That’s also logical, but it’s just a very early concept.”

Because it is purely C-end-oriented virtual people, it is more like what SM and Lehua Entertainment are better at, because there is industry accumulation in content operation and IP operation needed to create stars. The industrialization path of virtual human is more like To B. Its commercial vitality comes from connecting with brands in different fields, and it has more commercial imagination value. Regardless of the final development form of virtual humans, how to integrate with the current real technology and business growth is the right way.

Metaverse, the mirror of the virtual human To B track

Virtual Digital Human Industry Chain Map

Source: Toubao Research Institute, West China Securities Research Institute

It can be seen that the entire virtual human industry is currently divided into an upstream base layer, a midstream platform layer and a downstream application layer. On the To B battlefield, giants can adopt the platform strategy of flooding, while entrepreneurs are more inclined to integrate business sectors, integrate into the innovation and optimization of enterprise business experience, and form a new model of diversified customer access. Because not everyone can pay high costs to pan for gold in the industry, but everyone needs lightweight virtual technology solutions. For example, the underlying technology of AYAYI comes from Metahuman Creator, the creation tool of Unreal Engine. As the hottest graphics creation engine at the moment, it allows people to create photorealistic digital human figures in minutes.

In China, “Shiyou Technology” with to B business as its core has matured and commercialized in radio and television programs, brand marketing, live broadcast, short video, and education; “Shenzhen Technology”, a developer of virtual human production tools, relies on independent research and development The capabilities of CG and AI won three rounds of financing last year; “Magic Technology”, which completed hundreds of millions of yuan in Series A financing in June 2019, can not only complete the creation and operation of virtual humans, but also self-developed 3D AI virtual humans Ability platform… The reason why these virtual human creation tool providers or self-made teams are given high expectations, in the words of Du Zihang, AI director of “Magic Technology”, is that “the virtual human industry already has basic contradictions, and it is the growing high-quality The contradiction between the demand for virtual content and the backward productivity of virtual content”.

From this point of view, it doesn’t matter whether you can catch up with the virtual human outlet, but whether you have mastered the abilities it needs when the outlet arrives. The media once described NVIDIA as a “shovel seller” in the Metaverse, because NVIDIA, which has the advantage of “monopoly” in computing power, can make a lot of money in cloud computing, Metaverse, or virtual humans. The vice president of Yuanyi Capital said, “In addition to the traditional hardware equipment opportunities that everyone is familiar with, there are also huge software innovation opportunities in the Metaverse field, and there are opportunities for virtualization and gamification for all walks of life, such as the construction of virtual space. , gamified private domain marketing, there is very room for growth.” This is because whether in the current digital transformation scenario of an enterprise or the layout of the future Metaverse, the lower-level infrastructure capabilities are less likely to be replaced by new concepts.

03 To B gold rush, what are the immediate and long-term worries?

For To B’s virtual human enterprise, the other side of the opportunity is the challenge.

The immediate concern is a technical problem, and the production of virtual humans is a complicated task. Only the technical level involves the underlying supporting technologies (artificial intelligence, cloud computing, blockchain, etc.), the capability layer (3D spatial sound effects, ultra-low latency, face comparison, etc.), the application layer (virtual humans, content review, etc.) and Experience layer (games, social networking, virtual concerts, etc.), etc. The very popular virtual person Liu Yexi is actually presented by a combination of “real body + virtual face + cool special effects”. If you only look at Liu Yexi’s face, you can still see her lack of expression management.

Metaverse, the mirror of the virtual human To B track

Liu Yexi

At this stage, rather than making virtual people more real, it is more about making virtual people more natural. A natural and realistic experience of getting along with each other and a natural way of communication require a longer period of time to continuously iterate technology.

Foresight is the security of digital content in the virtual world. The AI ​​face-changing “fake Jin Dong” incident, which has been making a lot of noise before, reminds everyone to pay more attention to virtual social issues, and it also represents the excessively real appearance of virtual people, which will disturb everyone’s perception of “human beings”, and the emergence of “real people and fake people”. People can’t tell the difference”.

With the development and maturity of virtual human technology, compared with the current Internet ecology, the Metaverse is full-time and real-time due to technological evolution and integration of more realistic factors, and its content forms are more diverse, involving social and The economic relationship is more complex, the data is more, and the response is required to be faster, and the difficulty and cost of content risk control will also increase greatly. For the risk control of digital content in the Metaverse era, new solutions and regulations are needed to deal with it.

In addition, cost is also a headache for many companies. At present, whether it is hardware shipments or virtual human landing scenarios, it is difficult to equate with market expectations. However, Angela, a partner of Yuanyi Capital, is not particularly worried about the cost. She believes that the virtual human industry can also use MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to verify the feasibility. Even if the early trial and error fails, you can also gain experience in stepping on the pit.

As for how much room for imagination in this industry in the future, we might as well let the “bullet” fly for a while.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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