Seizing the entrance to the Metaverse, this is Tencent’s latest development

​Benchmarking Meta, Tencent Games implements both “soft and hard”

Tencent has taken a key step towards the next decade.

Recently, a number of media reports said that Tencent Holdings announced to its employees the official establishment of an “extended reality” (XR) division, betting on a full-real Internet. It is understood that the task of this department is to establish an XR business including software and hardware for Tencent, and will become part of the company’s Interactive Entertainment Group (IEG). Around 300 people.

Earlier, Jinghe exclusively reported that the Tencent XR game studio was led by Shen Li, the head of NExT Studios.People familiar with the matter told Jinghe that the organizational structure of the XR business is actually a business line, which is one level lower than the business group and one level higher than the department.

It is reported that Tencent’s layout in the XR field has been brewing for a year or two, and related departments knew about it a year ago. In addition to familiar software businesses (such as VR games), Tencent adopts a parallel strategy of external investment and internal exploration on the XR hardware side. To a certain extent, there is the idea of ​​benchmarking Meta.

In the eyes of many people in the industry, Tencent’s entry into the XR field is a move that follows the general trend. The leader of the mobile Internet era, if he wants to continue the right to speak in the next era, it is inseparable from occupying a favorable position in the next-generation platform.

However, the author is more concerned about why Shen Li is in charge of the XR business line? Why did Tencent choose to enter the XR market with a high profile at this stage? What is the latest progress of the two major business groups of Tianmei and Photonics in the XR business?

Why Shen Li?

There is an old-fashioned saying in the quotations about success: successful people are successful because of their strength and insight.

Not to mention the future development of Tencent’s XR business, Shen Li is also a suitable candidate from a personal resume.

In fact, this is not the first time Shen Li came into contact with XR. As early as the beginning of 2015, Shen Li’s team began to focus on the general direction of VR. At that time, the team made a VR Demo game “Comet” to understand the difference between making a VR game and a traditional game, the requirements for hardware and software, and where the development threshold is.

In September of the same year, at the VR sub-forum of the Tencent Global Partner Conference, Shen Li, then the deputy general manager of the R&D Department of Tencent Interactive Entertainment, shared for the first time two VR projects under development by Tencent: one is produced by the Unreal 4 engine. A space shooter; another is a light social game in a cartoon style with Low Poly.

Seizing the entrance to the Metaverse, this is Tencent's latest development

In 2017, Tencent cooperated with HTC Vive to launch the VR shooting game “Project Shadow Hunt”.

In addition, Shen Li also analyzed the problems faced by the industry from 0 to 1 and from 1 to N. For example, he mentioned at that time: the entire VR platform and hardware basic experience is not good; the replay value of VR games is low, far lower than that of traditional games; UGC and social networking are the points where VR content can be explored, and this requires technologies such as motion capture and digitization. support etc.

From the current point of view, especially the VR industry has experienced the bubble burst around 2016, to the rise of Quest and Pico in the past two years. Several issues he mentioned at that time have been verified.

In addition to having keen industry insight and judgment, Shen Li is also a solid veteran of the game industry.

He has worked at Ubisoft for almost 10 years, and has been in charge of technology and engines, and has participated in the production of many 3A games. Later, he joined Epic Games as CTO of Epic Games China, responsible for the research and development of the commercial engine.

In 2013, Shen Li officially joined Tencent and started working as NExT Studios in 2017. At present, the studio has launched game products such as “The Edge of Rebirth”, “Mysterious Case”, “Only Big Adventure”, and “The Incredible Crown”, which have gained a good market reputation.

Seizing the entrance to the Metaverse, this is Tencent's latest development

In terms of technology, NExT Studios continues to study cutting-edge technologies such as high-fidelity digital human and AI. It has two laboratories for photo modeling and motion capture, and has built a high-end digital human production pipeline in the industry and an animation production pipeline based on optical motion capture. . The digital astronaut “Xiao Zheng” and the virtual idol group “WL.S” are all representative projects of its digital people.

It can be said that one of the creative concepts of NExT Studios is to create a new content experience driven by new technologies. To a certain extent, this is quite similar to the fact that many Internet companies regard XR content as an entry point for the layout of the Metaverse.

After a few years, Tencent once again focused on the XR industry, and Shen Li once again served as the business face.Rather than saying that this is a matter of course, it is better to fit in with “the water will come naturally, and the wind will sail quickly”.

Why choose now?

After talking about “people”, let’s talk about “things”.

If Tencent has been paying attention to the VR/XR field, why did it choose to announce its entry in a low-key manner at this point in time? The reasons are nothing more than two points: first, optical, display, and interactive technologies are becoming more and more mature; second, the competitive landscape has changed.

Specific to the optical solution, in the past, VR headsets were bulky and bulky, which seriously affected the user experience. But now, we can see that the Fresnel lens solution is very mature, and it can generally reach a field of view angle of more than 100 degrees.

Seizing the entrance to the Metaverse, this is Tencent's latest development

According to the technological development trend, the foldable optical path solution is expected to become the mainstream. By then, the VR head display unit will become thin and light, and the wearing experience will be similar to ordinary glasses.

Then there is the display technology. When the human eye sees 30 pixels per degree of viewing angle, the pixel boundary is almost invisible. If it can reach 60/degree, the user can’t see the pixels at all. The current 4K resolution silicon-based OLED display can already provide a high enough resolution for VR headsets.

In the future, a MicroOLED display will be used, which can provide higher brightness. For users, this means double the immersion.

The last is the butterfly change of interactive technology. As we all know, the interaction mode in the PC Internet era is dominated by keyboard and mouse. The era of mobile Internet is the touch screen. At present, the mainstream VR headset interaction method is still dominated by the handle, but we can also see the rapid progress of gesture interaction technology.

Given that the underlying optics, display, and interactive technologies are becoming more and more mature, it is not difficult to understand why Tencent ended at this point in time. If the maturity of the underlying technology is an invisible factor, then the visible factor of the changing competitive landscape is pushing Tencent to accelerate.

Seizing the entrance to the Metaverse, this is Tencent's latest development

According to IDC’s latest forecast data, the total global AR/VR investment scale in 2021 is close to US$14.67 billion, and is expected to increase to US$74.73 billion in 2026, with a five-year compound growth rate (CAGR) of 38.5%. Among them, the five-year CAGR of the Chinese market is expected to reach 43.8%, ranking first in the world in terms of growth rate.

Focusing on the more popular VR market at this stage, there are Meta Oculus overseas and ByteDance Pico in China.According to relevant data, the global shipment of VR headsets in 2021 will be 10.95 million units, with Oculus accounting for 78%, and Pico ranking third with a 4.5% share.

The battle between the two sides in the XR field is still escalating. Some media have reported that Meta will release four VR headsets and two AR glasses in the next four years. On the other hand, after ByteDance acquired Pico for $15 last year, it also began to exert its efforts in overseas markets and tried to enter the US market.

The industry giants have long been engaged in the VR field, but Tencent seems to have no actual big moves yet. You may say that investing in Black Shark Technology is not the layout of XR terminals. This is true, of course, but cardiopulmonary bypass is comparable to building a car inside the body.

A person familiar with the matter revealed to Jinghe that Tencent established an XR department and chose a parallel strategy of software and hardware. In terms of hardware, in addition to investment, we also started to do some self-research exploration internally. If you know that Tencent has launched a game console – One xPlayer, you may be able to come up with a strategy for self-developed VR hardware.

In other words, it means mastering the design dominance and handing over the production to external manufacturers. It is reported that Black Shark Technology is working with Tencent to make VR headsets.

Tianmei, what is Photon doing?

Once XR terminal shipments take off, the importance of content is self-evident.

As mentioned above, Tencent established an XR department to explore game content and hardware. The author believes that this cutting-edge XR combat force has a mission on its shoulders and is more about exploration than commercialization. So the question is, who will take on the responsibility of commercialization?

The answer to this question, everyone must know, is naturally the major game studio groups. In particular, Tianmei Studio Group (hereinafter referred to as Tianmei) and Photon Studio Group (hereinafter referred to as Photon), the former accounted for 40% of Tencent’s game revenue, and the latter accounted for 29%.

Judging from the information disclosed so far, Photon is slightly ahead in the XR segment. Not long ago, Photon announced the establishment of the Photon Universe Platform and officially launched the new overseas brand name “LIGHTSPEED STUDIOS”.

Seizing the entrance to the Metaverse, this is Tencent's latest development

As Chen Yu, vice president of Tencent and president of the Photonics Studio Group, mentioned in the open letter to all Photonics employees, Photonics has accumulated certain new technologies and formed certain mobile terminal R&D advantages after so many years of research and development. However, in the face of the new generation of host and PC platform technology, VR and AR and other new generation hardware, the research and development of photonics has not yet deepened.

Or based on this long-term thinking, Photon implements the plan of “global layout and introduction of local R&D talents”, including opening companies in the United States, Canada, Singapore, Japan and other countries and regions.

Among them, the Singapore branch will serve as the R&D creative and collaboration center, responsible for the coordination of photon’s overseas R&D collaboration and global operations, and to explore cutting-edge technologies such as AR, VR, and cloud games.

Looking back at Tianmei, they did not disclose much information in the XR area. However, we can find some clues from the speech and production concept of Yao Xiaoguang, president of Tianmei Studio Group.

As early as 2016, Yao Xiaoguang stated in public that the reason why one generation can replace the previous generation in modern society is because of the innovation of tools. The development of the game industry is similar. It is the changes in input devices, output devices and storage devices that have made major breakthroughs in games.

In view of the immature VR equipment at that time, Yao Xiaoguang believes that if we want to completely change the game experience through VR, we need to go a long way.

An important road sign on this road is the Nanchang subsidiary. In September last year, Tianmei announced the establishment of a subsidiary in Nanchang to undertake the content production of various game projects in the studio group. The official did not disclose the specific content type, but the leaders at that time emphasized on deepening the production of game content in the VR industry. This makes people guess that Tianmei Nanchang business will be involved in XR game content.

Perhaps Yao Xiaoguang’s concept of protein games can explain something more: “As professional gamers, in addition to completing the company’s revenue goal, have we ever considered such a question: the business we do in the next ten or twenty years can be How will it benefit our loyal users?”

The author firmly believes that there will be a leap in terminal changes, and content will always be king.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/seizing-the-entrance-to-the-metaverse-this-is-tencents-latest-development/
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