Stop using virtual humans to tell the story of the Metaverse

When the enthusiasm of the tuyere dissipates and the capital recovers calm, the outside world will see who is the one who is really immersed in the work.

When the enthusiasm of the tuyere dissipates and the capital recovers calm, the outside world will see who is the one who is really immersed in the work.

Stop using virtual humans to tell the story of the Metaverse

Perhaps I saw Zuckerberg and Huang Renxun high-profile display of their “exquisite and cute” avatars at the press conference. Virtual people have also become the stepping stone for most companies to pursue the concept of Metaverse. As a result, we saw three Ding Lei ring the bell together, Ali AYAYI had its own badge, and Gong Jun’s digital person became the main coffee of the Baidu World Conference…

Although these digital humans or virtual humans are not a new technical concept for a long time, their emergence is regarded by enterprises as an important action for their own layout of the metaverse under the tuyere of the Metaverse, at least at the level of propaganda. significance.

But putting aside the heat and impetuosity of the Metaverse, and calm down to observe the logical relationship between the virtual human and the Metaverse concept, is it worth more and more enterprises to rush to?

Why is it a virtual person?

Stop using virtual humans to tell the story of the Metaverse

On September 5 this year, the face of a short-haired fan girl at the closing ceremony of the Tokyo Paralympic Games appeared in the form of projection on the ground of the closing ceremony of the stadium. In fact, this digital image has her own name and identity. She is a virtual person produced and operated by Japanese technology company Aww, named imma.

Imma, which is on the Olympic stage, is a representative of the Japanese virtual character industry. Thanks to the strong ACGN culture, Japan’s two-dimensional virtual character industry chain has better development soil and opportunities than other countries. Among them, the earliest and most well-known is the double ponytail singer “Hatsune Miku” dating back to 2007.

The concept of virtual humans is very broad, and it is widely recognized that a virtual image similar to a real human can be simulated on a computer. But there are no restrictions on the concept of Virtual Humans, and no one has the final right to interpret it. Therefore, Hatsune, imma, and Liu Yexi can be regarded as virtual humans. At the same time, the real-time motion capture virtual anchors such as NPC, animated images, dynamic emjio, codemiko, etc. in the game, and even AI voice assistants such as Siri, Xiaoai, and Xiaoice can be called in general terms. As a virtual person.

Why do companies and entrepreneurs who have been chasing the outlet of the Metaverse in recent times have all turned their attention to virtual humans? Perhaps it is mainly due to two reasons: the related production technology is relatively mature and can be produced quickly; the virtual human IP has been proven to have a good market prospect in the past few years, including a feasible and effective commercialization model.

Unlike the early virtual idols because there are not many commercialization paths (basically relying on fans to use love to generate secondary creation), in recent years, as the Z generation has gradually become the main force of social consumption, the business model of the virtual person field is also Gradually clear. At present, there are already many companies specializing in the production and operation of virtual idols in China. These virtual idol companies can provide a very complete service supply from virtual idol shape design to value personalization to later detailed operation and marketing plans.

According to the “In-Depth Industry Report on Virtual Digital Humans” previously released by Qubit, by 2030, the overall market size of virtual humans in my country will reach 270 billion yuan. At present, the market is in the early stage of cultivation, and it is the current market hotspot to replace virtual anchors in live services and virtual idols in virtual IP.

Zhang Lei (pseudonym), the co-founder of a virtual idol company, said to Understand Notes: “The cost gap between cartoon idols and ultra-realistic idols is huge. Nowadays, the more common cartoon VTuber (virtual anchor) only considers the production cost. , Generally 100,000 tens of thousands of yuan can be covered. Because the super-realistic virtual idols involve motion capture and CG rendering, all costs are calculated per second. Generally, the cost per second ranges from a few thousand to more than ten thousand. .”

The super-high production cost is the main reason why almost all companies we see that rely on virtual humans to counter the popularity of the universe have not chosen super-realistic virtual humans.

On the other hand, for companies that specialize in virtual idols, it is not difficult to create a virtual idol, but how to promote this IP. This is like a star in the entertainment circle, only when he is famous and out of the circle can he receive dramas, advertisements and endorsements.

Stop using virtual humans to tell the story of the Metaverse

Take Rainbow Club, which specializes in operating virtual youtuber in Japan as an example: Thanks to the maturity of facial capture, 3D modeling and other technologies, it can produce cartoon-oriented, non-super-realistic virtual anchors at a lower cost. At present, Rainbow Club has more than 120 virtual anchors. Most of these virtual anchors have achieved commercial realization of personal albums, concerts, endorsements, live broadcasts, etc. through the operation of personal IP.

The commercialization of virtual people in the domestic market is not uncommon. For example, Luo Tianyi and Li Jiaqi live together to bring goods, Haier brothers’ virtual people appear in Haier’s official live broadcast room, and various virtual idol IPs are also beginning to endorse enterprises.

Not everyone in the virtual idol world is staring at Luo Tianyi and Hatsune Miku. With the mass production of virtual idols, there has been an oversupply phenomenon in the market.

Zhang Lei said to Understanding Notes: “The part of virtual idols that really burns money is more real IP. The total production cost of cartoon virtual images may only cost 100,000 yuan, but the annual operating cost of IP is millions of dollars. , And the probability of successfully getting out of the circle to achieve commercialization is not high. Now, the industry is very serious, and the proportion of companies that can really have positive cash flow is not high.”

Relatively mature technology has caused the entire industry to fall into a high-intensity involution. It just so happened that the emergence and popularity of the Metaverse concept gave these virtual human companies the possibility of embracing a larger market overnight.

Want to grab the straw of Metaverse?

Stop using virtual humans to tell the story of the Metaverse

Take Liu Yexi, who has been popular on the short video platform before, as an example: a video has gained 2.3 million followers in three days. This may be due to Liu Yexi’s creative team deliberately moving closer to the concept of Metaverse, or it may be the market under the tuyere of Metaverse. It is summarized under that tuyere by default. In any case, it really enjoys the bonus of this wave of yuan universe tuyere.

But from another perspective, although its main creative team is trying to add its own values ​​and worldview to Liu Yexi, in essence, it is still just a 3D character created through high-precision 3D modeling, and its creative team was originally just A film and television special effects team.

From this point of view, it seems to be no different from the production team of these sci-fi movies or the production team of 3A games, or from a technical point of view, it is even far inferior to industry giants such as Marvel and Sony. However, it seems that no one has ever equated games or film companies such as Sony, Ubisoft, and Marvel with Metaverse.

This is a little weird.

In this regard, a senior entrepreneur in the related virtual reality field said to Understanding Notes: “In the concept of Metaverse, virtual humans are just a shell. The most important thing is how to give this shell more initiative. This may require approval in the future. The blessing of AI technology allows these people in the virtual world to have at least some independent communication possibilities, similar to the super artificial intelligence NPC played by the protagonist in “Out of Control Player”.”

But at least from the current point of view, those companies and entrepreneurs who hold a rough virtual person image and hype about their layout of the Metaverse obviously have not considered the follow-up ecological construction.

We do not deny the value of the Metaverse. But to be honest, the makers who hold a rough virtual person and say that they have entered the metaverse are no different from those who publish metaverse books and sell metaverse courses in a short period of time. They may be masters of cutting leeks. . Turn the time back to one year ago. At that time, many of the people who issued and speculated all in the blockchain were probably the same group as those who speculated the concept of Metaverse.

As for the development of Metaverse at this stage, what we agree with is the opinion of Xu Wu, an investment partner of Zhen Fund: The current Metaverse ecology or virtual reality equipment, if compared with the development of the game industry, is probably in Yada Lee 2600 (a game console released by Atari in October 1977).

Stop using virtual humans to tell the story of the Metaverse

Although the VR/AR hardware and software ecosystems have been developed for quite some time, from the perspective of the presented effects, they are still far from the stage of perfect effects as envisioned. Including a series of giants, most of the Metaverse visions displayed by companies at this stage are still pre-rendered special effects movies.

Take the now recognized industry leader Meta as an example. After the cool name change conference where Zuckerberg is constantly changing, Meta’s first Metaverse product, Horizon Worlds, is actually the same as the previous promotional film. What is depicted here is still a world of difference. You must know that it has been two years since Horizon Worlds first released the beta version in September 2019.

In this regard, a senior executive of a domestic virtual reality company said to Understanding Notes: The construction of infrastructure at the two levels of software and hardware is the current focus. “In the future, the advancement of hardware technology and the construction of software content ecology, including VR devices, tactile wearables, etc., will all kinds of virtual reality devices truly mature, and when will they truly become national-level mobile phones like today? General-purpose equipment; at the software level, when will there be a nationwide application with hundreds of millions or even billions of users? After all, there are already thousands of different applications on platforms like Steam, but none of them can become the real meaning Explosions on the market.”

In addition, for entrepreneurs who want to create a new world in the virtual space, they must also consider related issues such as supervision. After all, in the future, virtual currency and NFT, which are recognized by foreign metaverse practitioners, have a high probability in the domestic market. It doesn’t work.

Perhaps these problems are not within the consideration of companies that rely on virtual humans to tell Metaverse stories, at least not yet.

Concluding remarks

From the acquisition of Oculus by Facebook for US$2 billion in 2014, to the acquisition of Pico by Bytedance this year, under the leadership of global technology giants such as Meta, Microsoft, and Byte, the future of Metaverse should be worth looking forward to. But at the same time, we must also realize that only after the hardware entrance and software ecology mature, the so-called Metaverse can realize the ideal state. If the “Atari 2600” mentioned in the above article is used as a measurement standard, it will take at least 5-10 years to consider the current speed of technological iteration. In other words, this will be a long-term investment project. When the heat from the outlet dissipates and the capital becomes calm, the outside world will see who is really working on it.

This article is from the WeChat public account “Understanding Notes” (ID: dongdong_note), author: Understand the deity

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