The Metaverse explodes, and the commercial landing of virtual humans is realistic and cruel

Liu Yexi, who has only posted four videos, has nearly 8 million fans. NetEase has just made the sixth investment in a virtual person company this year.

Liu Yexi, who has only posted four videos, has nearly 8 million fans. NetEase has just made the sixth investment in a virtual person company this year. As soon as the first-generation virtual person Kizuna Ai announced that it would stop activities indefinitely after the 2022 concert, Sony teamed up with Station B to open the global virtual idol “Virtual Cinderella Project” project.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of the virtual human industry.

To be more precise, most companies create virtual idols: they have developed from 2D to 3D, some of which are “dedicated” in performing arts, and some are branded advertising tools. Nevertheless, not many can make commercial achievements. Perhaps for such an industry, the rapid demand for commercialization is a bit cruel, but the competition is fiercer than people think.

Virtual people, still just tool people

The public enlightenment of virtual idols may be traced back to Hatsune Miku in 2007 and Luo Tianyi in 2012, but they were still positioned as virtual singers at the time. And what drives the development of virtual idols toward more comprehensive fields such as live broadcasting is Youtuber, Kizuna Ai, who created the form of virtual live broadcasting in 2016.

As Kizunai broke through the million fans mark in 2017, virtual artist operating companies such as Rainbow Club and Hololive have emerged. Until 2018, this type of two-dimensional anchor is still a symbol of virtual humans. After 2020, the application of super-realistic 3D technology has become the mainstream, and more people are willing to accept a new generation of virtual humans that resemble humans but have exquisite makeup and distinctive features. At this time, the rise of the Metaverse concept allowed players in all major fields to see the opportunity to enter.

ByteDance has the virtual idol girl group A-Soul created and operated by Lehua Entertainment, Tencent has the “Unlimited Kings Group” of “Glory of the King”, and Mihayou has Luming. Although NetEase, which holds a large amount of content IP, has not launched a specific role, it has just led the investment of a ten million yuan angel round of financing from the virtual digital person and virtual fashion developer Shi Yuexing.

Since the beginning of this year, NetEase has successively invested in six virtual person-related companies, including Genies, an avatar technology company, Imvu, a social platform “Metaverse”, Maestro, a US live broadcast company that creates virtual interactive concerts, and the parent company of “Microsoft XiaoIce”. The next-generation culture of Mian Xiaobing and virtual idol IP content development and operation.

The Metaverse explodes, and the commercial landing of virtual humans is realistic and cruel

(The virtual person of Shiyue Xingcheng has commercial cooperation, and Netease believes that the future of realistic virtual person is broader)

Dachang’s attitude is clear. It can either deploy the virtual human industry alone or use it as a part of its own products. Acquisitions and cooperation are also good ideas. AYAYI created by Ranmai Technology is the first ultra-realistic digital person in China. After becoming a member of more than 20 virtual bloggers in Xiaohongshu, Ali met her in September this year and became a god. The digital manager of Cat Super Brand Day.

In the matter of creating virtual humans, big companies have both capital, technology, and application scenarios, and they can catch up with this hot spot for the time being regardless of return. In contrast, there are small and medium-sized players in the subdivision field who are unwilling to give up this piece of cake, but it is not easy to make achievements.

Chuangyi Technology, who created Liu Yexi, only received the first round of financing of 10 million yuan in February this year, but it was already an experienced video team with tens of millions of fans IP such as “Huihui Zhou”. There are more than 150 people in the large, medium and Taiwanese team behind Liu Yexi, which is already the top level for small and medium companies.

At the 11th Beijing International Film Festival, China Film Studio, an animation producer, said that it would develop virtual idols and other development activities around the IP of “Youth Song Xing”. Such a virtual human development idea is an extension of traditional IP development. Although it is more in line with the characteristics of small and medium-sized companies, it will undoubtedly be a heavier test for operations, otherwise it will face the decline of IP.

In the final analysis, the problem is only one point. In this non-virtual world, virtual people need a reasonable way to deal with themselves. As a product of human technology, it is now difficult for virtual humans to get rid of the fate of “tool man”. If it just blindly outputs content or image to the outside world, but can’t bring output, the controller behind the virtual person will obviously not be difficult to use love to generate electricity.

So, for more or less virtual people with idol attributes, what kind of monetization model can be more decent?

Creating stars and selling IP, the commercialization of virtual humans is cruel

For virtual humans living on the Internet, traffic is still the mother of commercialization-of course, if the worldview of the Metaverse is formed, virtual humans may have new developments. But since at least 2016, whether it is Kizuna Ai or Liu Yexi, the commercialization of virtual humans, the methods and needs are still very realistic.

The Metaverse explodes, and the commercial landing of virtual humans is realistic and cruel

(Liu Yexi’s personal profile contains two business contacts, and he is positioned as a virtual beauty expert)

There are two ways of creating virtual humans with commercial value. One is to create virtual humans based on content and product customization, or IP, and the other is industrial mass production, which can also be regarded as creating virtual humans before creating IP.

The former is relatively easy to understand. A popular and popular character that has its own heat and appeal can continue to attract fans of the original IP only by giving it enough interaction and expressive power. But as mentioned above, it is more difficult for such a virtual person to break away from the original life cycle of the IP, especially because it will be affected by the evaluation of the original content-think about the content that is still being broadcast due to various reasons. The score will be clear. . Therefore, the independent commercial value of the virtual person created by this kind of thinking is relatively limited.

The industrialized virtual person is more similar to the copy of the traditional starmaking route. However, as a life living on the Internet, the risk of virtual person’s performance decline and word-of-mouth collapse is obviously smaller.

The Metaverse explodes, and the commercial landing of virtual humans is realistic and cruel

(Four real people + four virtual people 1:1 modeling mixed girl group aespa launched by South Korea’s SM company)

It is a pity that technology has created more plasticity, but temporarily unable to dig out more forms of realization:

·A-SOUL received more than 2.49 million yuan of live broadcast rewards at station B in November this year. Its member “To the Night Devil” June birthday party will live broadcast a single day of 1.25 million yuan, and member “Bella” will have a July birthday party. One night income of 2 million yuan

Luo Tianyi, who is more senior, has done live broadcasts and concerts. The virtual idol LING brought GUCCI to Xiaohongshu in June this year, but suffered “group ridicule” because of its virtual attributes.

·Houhaihui’s official virtual idol @想想Hilda and Beijing Shiyue Xingcheng’s virtual person @CallmeVila met together to explore the shop in Shanghai, and released their check-in notes in Xiaohongshu

It is not difficult to see that for virtual people, the step of combining virtual and real is already a breakthrough achievement. There will be more integration attempts in the future, but its realization method is always trapped in a traffic cage.

IiMedia Consulting’s “2021 China Virtual Idol Industry Development and Netizen Survey Research Report” pointed out that the core industry of China’s virtual idol will be 3.46 billion yuan in 2020, and it is expected to reach 6.22 billion yuan in 2021. In contrast, the size of China’s virtual idol peripheral market is expected to reach 107.49 billion yuan in 2021. To some extent, it is more cost-effective to excavate surrounding industries with a virtual person, just like when Lingna Bell becomes popular, everyone will compete for surrounding dolls.

Relying on traffic to monetize is not a problem. The problem is that when a lot of traditional content itself is also a traffic divider, can the attention robbed of newly entered virtual people become a long-term bonus?

The Liu Yexi team summarized the success of this role as “50% is due to the concept of Metaverse, 30% is due to its 2.5-dimensional setting and technical level, and 20% is the creation of video creativity and worldview”. It can be seen that it is not easy for ordinary virtual people to break the circle if they are not in the wave of the dual explosion of Metaverse + virtual idols. Watsons, Zhong Xuegao, and China Unicom have all launched their own virtual people, but they have not been popular.

Not every company is Lehua Entertainment and SM, but is born a star-making company. If you want a virtual person to exist longer, you can’t count on the long-term support of Tencent and NetEase. Virtual people need to have some realistic ecology, technology has created them, and stories will give them vitality.

Virtual human industry ecology, technology and story are indispensable

From a technical point of view, the cost of full-process CG production and engine rendering required by virtual humans is not low, and the production time is long. The specific production process and difficulty are no less than top-level computer special effects. Of course, it also depends on the form of virtual human presentation. To build a virtual human matrix on a large scale is a big test for the level and strength of the company.

This is also the reason for the existence of mass-production companies like Shiyue Xingcheng, which can more effectively use the experience of technological iteration and create a virtual human matrix with more comprehensive application value. Then, based on the accumulation of many virtual human roles, we will explore suitable business models. Similarly, another company in the industry that is positioned to operate Metaverse digital assets, Global Murphy, has many executives from the top international technology special effects company Industrial Light and Magic, laying the foundation for virtual human resource reserves.

At this level, the industrialization path of virtual humans is currently more like To B, and the vitality of its commercialization comes from docking with brands in different fields. Purely oriented to the C-side is more like SM, Lehua Entertainment and other brokerage companies are better at doing things, it takes industry accumulation to build a star virtual person in a familiar way.

With technology as a foreshadowing, virtual humans should consider how to make their vitality longer. And this problem will become a pain point for most virtual human companies for a long time, and may be the pain point of most virtual human companies before the real arrival of the Metaverse. The original virtual idols became idols because they could produce content. Now, the field of content has disappeared, and the virtual person has become a virtual internet celebrity. It is far from enough to evolve from the chasing war of some companies to a complete industry.

On December 15th, Sony announced that it will join hands with Station B to launch the “virtual idol” project to be promoted globally. It will recruit members responsible for singing through auditions, and launch music distribution and online programs. This can be regarded as an extension of the traditional virtual anchor of Station B. Although there are no new elements, it is positioned to create content that is always more valuable than pure image output.

The combination of major manufacturers may be content-driven for a long time in the construction of content and commercialization lines. If small and medium-sized players do not have a clear foothold, they will eventually be forgotten in the world of virtual humans.

Virtual people always need a content ecology, and people who come out of the story can be more lively. For a series of self-created virtual humans, it may be worth looking forward to recreating a “Lina Belle”-like character, but without Disney’s brand appeal and supporting facilities, how virtual humans can travel through the life cycle can only use content Continue to shape the perception of the outside world, just like Liu Yexi is still playing her story on Douyin.

Concluding remarks

In 2019, a user of station B posted “the rapid development of virtual idols at station B”. At that time, the focus was still on Vtuber, and the two-dimensional anchor was the orthodox in the industry. But just more than two years later, the virtual person has been able to receive LV and GUCCI advertisements on the Internet, and can start live broadcasts with goods. If we have another summary today, the title of the article should be called the year when the commercialization of virtual idols broke out.

The Metaverse explodes, and the commercial landing of virtual humans is realistic and cruel

(Review of the rapid prosperity of virtual idols at station B by the user of station B “Black Emperor”)

However, if the virtual human’s business and industry can only stay in the flow of thinking, can its future really make a significant difference from the traditional starmaking movement? This may be a myth left by the rapid entry into the industrialization stage. After players have used N technology iterations to build an assembly line, they discovered that what the virtual human lacks is not production but demand.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
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