The original metaverse, why is it getting attention now?

The ‘Chungkang Game Conference 2021 (hereafter CGC)’ event held at the Chungkang University of Culture and Industry Game Contents School was held online today (3rd). CGC is an event designed to display the graduation works of game contents school graduates and to directly communicate with graduates, current students, prospective auditors, and industrial sites.

At the CGC held online using the Microsoft Teams app, a total of 11 presentation sessions were prepared. CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said that ‘Ditoland’, which is currently being developed by UT+, is also a metaverse platform, and introduces the definition of ‘Metaverse’, which is currently attracting attention as the hottest keyword in Korea. It was introduced through a lecture on how it was approached.

▲ Taeyeon Yoo, CEO of Utplus

CEO Yoo Tae-yeon introduced the definition of ‘metaverse’ before the full-fledged announcement. Metaverse is a compound word of ‘meta’ and ‘universe’, and was first introduced in Neil Stevenson’s novel ‘Snow Crash’. In the novel, the metaverse is used as a concept of a transcendent world, and he explained that the metaverse can be defined as ‘a virtual world where everyone can engage in social, economic, and cultural activities using avatars’.

In Korea, it began to receive explosive attention this year, but the metaverse is a concept that has existed as a hot potato, being mentioned in various circles in the industry since 2020. Nvidia’s CEO Jen-Hsun Huang mentioned at the last GDC that ‘the era of the metaverse is coming’, and in early November, the metaverse will be built for $9,000 a year (about 10 million won). It also unveiled a three-dimensional avatar called ‘Toy-Me’. Facebook’s ‘Horizon’, which recently changed its name to ‘Meta’, is also one of the metaverse solutions that help users do various things in the virtual world.

CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said that the definition of metaverse can be divided into four categories, and introduced the ‘augmented reality (AR)’, ‘lifelogging’, ‘mirror world’ and ‘virtual reality (VR)’. continued First, augmented reality (AR) refers to the use of hardware that provides AR functions like HoloLens. He introduced the HoloLens video, which was first released in 2016, and said that the world will come in the future where all tasks can be handled with just one piece of hardware in the form of glasses without a monitor.

However, this future work environment seems premature for current technology. He said that when HoloLens was first released, he tried to apply it to work at Utplus, but the update rate was too slow than expected, and he said that it was too heavy to wear and use all day. Although there is still a long way to go, CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said that it is clear that it is a device capable of new experiences.

The second is ‘lifelogging’, that is, recording life. Even now, many people take it for granted that they use Apple Watch or SNS to record their sleep information or daily information. Recording daily life like this and leaving it as a log is also an important axis of the metaverse.

The third is a ‘mirror world’, that is, a world in which reality is expressed exactly as it is. It is not an example in the game, but Google Earth or ‘Earth 2’ can be said to be applicable here. CEO Yoo Tae-yeon introduced that even today, within these services, transactions for buying and selling virtual land are taking place, and there is a movement to preoccupy. The part connected with reality is still weak, but it is also a movement that can predict the expected value in the future.

The last component of the metaverse is the ‘virtual world (VR)’. VR is being expressed in many places through movies and novels such as The Matrix, Avatar, and Ready Player One. He said that not only ‘Second Life’, which was officially released in 2006, but also Cyworld, which was used by many users in Korea, can be a kind of metaverse, and that early examples of metaverse have already appeared in various places.

CEO Yoo Tae-yeon explained that when he first heard the word metaverse, he thought about how it was different from the game for a long time. In World of Warcraft, on January 1st, you can see users gathered in the Westfall to watch the first year of the new year rise. He explained that the factor that distinguishes the metaverse from the game is the fact that it conducts ‘productive activities’ such as purchasing goods, holding a meeting, and holding a meeting in a 3D space, which can differentiate it from existing games. .

▲ “Unlike games, productive activities occur in the metaverse.”

So, why is the metaverse getting attention at this point? CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said that there have been many games that can find the roots of the metaverse, but there are three reasons why they are now getting attention.

The first is the impact of the prolonged Corona situation. As the opportunity to meet people offline became less and less, people began to look for alternatives online, and a change began to appear, moving many productive activities from offline to online.

The second is the relaxation of barriers to entry according to technological advances. This is because VR and AR hardware, PCs, and network speeds have developed and a consensus has been formed throughout the market, ‘Now can we do it too?’ In fact, through the development of technology, it has become a world in which various technologies that were previously only possible in imagination are realized.

The third is for ‘preemption of the platform’. As it was at a time when various search platforms such as Yahoo, Lycos, Daum, and ‘dotcom’ were swarming in the past, the metaverse has become a trend of the times, so the movement to preoccupy it has accelerated. He explained that most of the companies that currently provide IP have the expectation that if they become a platform that leads the metaverse, they will be able to go one step further. It’s like the first thing that comes to mind when you think of video production.

Taeyeon Yoo, the CEO, emphasized that it is important to think about how to share each other’s data at a time when the metaverse platform is rampant, although it is a confusing situation in a way. It is predicted that in the next few years, platforms that will naturally become representatives or are divided by industries such as finance, media, and shopping malls will be established.

In the past, all platform concepts were limited to offline, but the current platform is being implemented online, mobile, and even augmented reality. Since 2000, the concept of the platform has been developed every 10 years, and in 2020, the era of the full-fledged metaverse has arrived.

Representative Yoo Tae-yeon said that mankind has always tried to make something more similar to reality, and although it seems somewhat lacking now, as technology advances in the future, he can sense all five senses, and the future in which it is difficult to distinguish the real and the virtual like Zhuangzi’s ‘Phalaenopsis dream’ is coming soon. He explained that he would come.

He said that there are people who sometimes worry about the dark future as depicted in the movie ‘The Matrix’, and these worries and concerns were the same when radio and TV first appeared, he said, and said that mankind will solve these problems wisely.

As the basis for the metaverse technology to support this claim, he is marketing the Animal Crossing used by President Joe Biden during the election campaign, ‘Travis Scott’ virtual event held at Fortnite, BTS music video pre-release event, and ZEPETO. An example of a Unity ‘Unite’ event and a Blackpink fan signing event was introduced. In particular, Travis Scott’s Fortnite performance was a successful example of a much better performance than offline performances, and it was also a big opportunity for many entertainment companies to pay attention to the metaverse market.

Next, ‘Gather Town’, an online office where members can work face-to-face in a virtual office, and Spatial, a meeting app that can work together in VR and AR spaces with avatars that reflect users’ real faces, will be introduced. done.

CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said that it is often difficult to distinguish who is who when walking around using an avatar in the metaverse space. He said it couldn’t be a really fun technique.

In addition, a LiDAR scanner that recognizes object modeling through depth search, and a pose recognition app were also introduced. In the case of the lidar scanner, he explained that it is a function that can implement a ‘mirror world’ that can obtain all detailed information from the field with a brief scan, and that UTI Plus is currently trying to use the lidar scanner.

‘Roblox’ is a representative example that cannot be left out when talking about the metaverse. Roblox, officially launched in 2006, is an app that consists of a cloud where you can use production tools, share and communicate, a studio with production tools for developers and creators, and a client, a production tool that users can use. Looking at user trends, the overall age of users is very low, with users between the ages of 5 and 12 accounting for more than 50% of the total pie, and mobile users account for 72%.

The revenue distribution of Roblox, which achieved 1 trillion won in sales in 2020, was 25.5% for market commission costs, 26% for platform costs such as server maintenance and marketing costs, 24.5% for R&D investment costs, and 24.5% for developer and creator revenue sharing. % is allotted As the number of monthly play users reaches 192 million and the number of developers reach 8 million, nearly a quarter of the total pie is given to developers and creators through profit sharing. He emphasized that Roblox is a company that is highly regarded in the market because of the number of users who can sufficiently cover the loss even if there is a lot of loss.

Lastly, CEO Taeyeon Yoo introduced ‘Ditoland’, a UGC sandbox platform being developed by Utplus. Here, the sandbox is a platform characterized by freedom of creation and unlimited degrees of freedom, and it means a platform like a ‘sand playground’ where you can create something freely.

He recalled that the reason for creating the UGC platform came from his game development experience. He, who has developed various games for the past 25 years, said that it was really difficult to make a game, and explained that unnecessary ‘Pep-Pep-Pyi’ had to be emphasized in order to keep up with the speed of content consumption by users.

At this time, he came up with the idea of ​​how to let users create content to play by themselves. This is because the content will naturally accumulate without continuously squeezing out the content, and users will be able to spend their time on their own. It is this thought that led to the creation of ‘D.T. Land’.

In the case of YouTube, someone just broadcasts it, and it makes money. Since there is a profit, I think that I have to make it better for more profit, and other people who see this kind of profit come to think, ‘Should I try it too?’ It is a method in which the number of participants continues to increase in a natural virtuous cycle. CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said in the video that the goal of Ditoland is to construct such a profit model in 3D content, just as YouTube did.

Currently, Ditoland provides studios for users. Here, various development methods are supported so that the user can not only place the prepared object, but also write and put the logic directly. The content created in this way is released through the platform, and other users can play it. He explained that the alpha version of Ditoland has been released since March 2021, and the current goal is to quickly expose the shortcomings to receive feedback from users and to complete them one by one.

Next, CEO Taeyeon Yoo introduced various mini-games and UGC games that can be experienced at Ditoland. These include a simple defense game, a chair grabbing game, and an obstacle avoidance game that users participating in Detoland can enjoy without any burden. He recalled that he was able to feel that the times had changed by watching the young users playing and enjoying these simple games all day long.

Another thing that Ditoland paid attention to is the ‘avatar decoration function’. Usually, in the case of sandbox-type games, users between the ages of 12 and 15 are often targeted. This is because the age of 15 or older is the age at which purchasing power can be developed, and he explained that such concerns are the same concerns that Roblox currently has.

CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said that the ‘future of the metaverse’ would be the expansion of what was once in the domain of experts, such as broadcasting, into the domain of individuals. Just as broadcasting, which used to be one of the domains of experts, has become a domain of individuals through YouTube, it can be said that he and Utplus’ aspiration to represent ‘one-person space content’ in Ditoland.

It was never easy for an individual to prepare the existing contents that were conducted in an offline space. Preparing for seminars, conferences, exhibition halls, online shops, e-sports events, fan meetings, and concerts in which many people participate was the domain of experts. However, he insists that anyone can easily decorate and promote their own exhibition hall in a virtual space by using a platform such as ‘Ditoland’.

He explained that since the Indiecraft event held in May, he has held a gallery exhibition in Ditoland in cooperation with the Disabled People’s Foundation a while ago. .

▲ Offline events that required space are gradually moving to ‘online’.

Finally, he introduced the obstacles that still remain in the process of creating the metaverse platform. The first problem is the ‘user monetization’ part. In order to encourage users to create content, there has to be revenue that goes back to those users, but if it is classified as a game, it is illegal. At this time, the metaverse must clearly distinguish whether it is a game or not, and the first obstacle is that this remains unclear.

The second is blockchain and NFT. After Wemade’s Mir 4 became a global hit, most game developers are currently considering a blockchain system. However, the only countries in the world where it is difficult to provide blockchain services are China and Korea. Mir 4 is also being serviced in separate Korean and global versions, but in Korea, the part that can be converted into cash is omitted. The game version also has to be divided into two and the management cost increases, but the regulations in Korea are not clear so far.

The third obstacle is the issue of ‘UGC deliberation’. Deliberation is necessary to prevent users from uploading adult content or infringing copyright, but it is a question of whether many users can review content uploaded at the same time. In the case of games, post-deliberation is basic in the global market, but in Korea, there are many restrictions because the system of first-time review is adopted. CEO Yoo Tae-yeon said that he tried to apply for a self-determination like Google Play or Epic Store in Ditoland, but suffered from a more complicated procedure than expected.

Although there are still many difficult situations remaining, he expressed his aspiration to make use of the motto of ‘Imagination into reality, a new world I create’ to become a leading metaverse platform.

■ Q&A

Q. In the end, the ‘big board’ seems to be important for the metaverse to be established. Currently, many companies are preparing the metaverse platform at the same time, but if each has a plate, fragmentation will occur, making it difficult to realize the desired economy of scale. Is there any solution for this?

– All the big companies now think that it is difficult to do it alone. Large companies such as NC and Netmarble are also considering and discussing that aspect together. I think the next 1-2 years will be really chaotic.

Utplus has been preparing for the metaverse for more than 3 years, but I think that it is basically difficult on my own. The cost of the infrastructure is also the same when it comes to bringing in good IP. For the time being, I think that large companies will form a platform through collaboration.

Q. In Korea, it seems that Metaverse, NFT, blockchain, and coins are returning as one set. Do you think these concepts can be separated from each other?

– The biggest problem in Korea is ‘cash conversion’. In fact, blockchain technology and NFT application are technologies that can be applied without cash, and NFT or blockchain technology will be applied everywhere. As mentioned earlier, metaverse platforms will be in a rush for a while, and NFTs and blockchains will get attention as a way to share each other’s data. Forms related to cash conversion in Korea are expected to be difficult for the time being.

Q. Several games will share goods through blockchain and NFT, and at this time, the economic ecosystem of each game is likely to collapse. Wouldn’t economic control be difficult?

– Simple linkage is supported, but it will take a long time to develop to the extent that it infringes on each other’s economy. This is not an easy problem to arise because interests between each platform arise. For example, in a collaboration event that can be seen in several places now, if it is a game on the same platform, it is very active, but if it is not, it is very passive in many ways. On the other hand, there is a fear that users may be stolen. After all, it can be said that it will take a really long time to build an NFT economic system that is closely interlocked enough to have an impact on the economy.