Benchmarking meta, Tencent game "soft and hard"

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Source:Competing nucleus Author: guizhiwei

Original title: seize the entrance of the meta universe, which is the latest development of Tianmei photons

Tencent has taken a key step towards the next decade.

Recently, several media reported that Tencent holdings announced to its employees that it had officially established an "extended reality" (XR) department to bet on the Quanzhen Internet. It is understood that the task of this department is to establish XR business including software and hardware for Tencent, and will become a part of the company's interactive entertainment business group (IEG). The general principal is maxiaoyi, senior vice president of Tencent, and the Department has about 300 employees.

Earlier, Jinghe exclusive reported that Tencent XR game studio was led by Shenli, head of next studios. Insiders told Jinghe that the organizational structure of XR business is actually a business line, one level lower than the business group and one level higher than the Department.

It is reported that Tencent has been brewing in the XR field for oneortwo years, and the related departments knew about it a year ago. In addition to familiar software businesses (such as VR games), Tencent adopts the parallel strategy of external investment and internal exploration on the XR hardware side. To some extent, I have the idea of benchmarking meta.

In the view of many people in the industry, Tencent's entry into the XR field is a measure to comply with the general trend. If the leaders in the mobile Internet era want to continue their voice in the next era, they can not do without 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 does Tencent choose to enter the XR market with a high profile at this stage? What are the latest developments of Tianmei and photon business groups in XR business?

Why Shen Li? Insight and strength

There is an old saying in the success study quotations: the success of successful people depends on strength and insight.

Apart from the future development of Tencent XR business, Shen Li is also a suitable candidate from the perspective of personal resume.

In fact, this is not Shen Li's first contact with XR. As early as the beginning of 2015, Shen Li's team began to focus on the direction of VR.At that time, the team made a VR demo game comet to understand the differences between VR games and traditional games, the requirements for hardware and software, and where the development threshold is.

In September of the same year, at the VR sub forum of Tencent global partnership conference, Shen Li, then deputy general manager of Tencent mutual entertainment R & D department, shared two Tencent VR projects under research for the first time: one is a space shooting game produced by the unreal 4 engine; The other is a mild social game in the cartoon style of low poly.

In 2017, Tencent cooperated with HTC vive to launch VR shooting game "shadow hunting plan".

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 that the entire VR platform and hardware infrastructure experience were poor; VR games have low Re play value, which is far lower than traditional games; UGC and social networking are the explorable points of VR content, which needs the support of mobile capture, digital and other technologies.

From now on, especially the VR industry experienced the foam burst around 2016 and the rise of quest and Pico in the past two years. The several problems he mentioned at that time have been verified.

In addition to his keen industry insight and judgment, Shen Li is also a hard core veteran in the game industry.

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

In 2013, Shen Li officially joined Tencent and began to work as next studios in 2017. At present, the studio has launched such high-quality game products as "the edge of rebirth", "the sound of mystery", "only big adventure", "crown without deliberation" and has won a good reputation in the market.

In terms of technology, next studios continues to study high fidelity digital human, AI and other cutting-edge technologies. It has two laboratories, photographic modeling and motion capture, and has built a high-end digital human production pipeline and an animation production pipeline based on optical motion capture. Digital astronaut "Xiaozheng" and virtual idol group "wl.s" are all representative projects of its digital people.

It can be said that one of the creative ideas of next Studios is to create a new content experience driven by new technologies. To some extent, this is quite similar to the fact that many Internet companies regard XR content as the entry point for the layout of the meta universe.

After several years, Tencent once again focused on the XR industry, and Shen Li once again served as the business facade. It's not so much a matter of course as a matter of "the wind comes and the sail is fast".

Why now?

After talking about "people", let's talk about "things".

If Tencent has been focusing on the vr/xr field, why did it choose to make a low-key announcement at this time? There are two reasons: first, the optical, display and interactive technologies are becoming more and more mature; Secondly, the competition pattern has changed.

In terms of optical solutions, in the past, VR head displays were bulky and thick, which seriously affected the user experience. But now, we can see that the Fresnel lens scheme has been very mature and can generally reach a field angle of more than 100 degrees.

According to the technical development trend, the folding optical path scheme is expected to become the mainstream. At that time, the VR head display unit will become light and thin, and the wearing experience is similar to ordinary glasses.

Furthermore, the display technology, when the human eye sees 30 pixels at each angle of view, it can hardly feel the pixel boundary. If it can reach 60 pixels / degree, the user can't see the pixels at all. At present, the 4K resolution silicon-based OLED display has been able to provide a high enough resolution for VR head display.

In the future, micro OLED display will be used to provide higher brightness. For users, this means a doubling of immersion.

The last is the butterfly change of interactive technology. As we all know, the interaction mode in the PC Internet era is mainly keyboard and mouse. The era of mobile Internet is touch screen. Currently, the mainstream VR head display interaction mode is still based on the handle, but we can also see the rapid progress of gesture interaction technology.

In view of the increasingly mature underlying optical, display and interactive technologies, it is not difficult to understand why Tencent ended up at this point in time. If the underlying technology maturity is an invisible factor, then the apparent factor of the changing competition pattern is pushing Tencent forward.

According to IDC's latest forecast data, the total global ar/vr investment in 2021 will be 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.

Focus on the more popular VR market at this stage. There are meta oculus overseas and ByteDance Pico in China. According to relevant data, in 2021, the global shipment of VR head mounted displays was 10.95 million units, oculus accounted for 78% of the total, and Pico ranked third with a share of 4.5%.

The contest between the two sides in the XR field is still escalating. Some media have reported that meta will release four VR head displays and two ar glasses in the next four years. In contrast, after ByteDance acquired Pico with us $1.5 billion last year, it also began to make efforts in overseas markets and try to enter the US market.

Industry giants have long been unable to make friends in the VR field, but Tencent seems to have made no practical big moves. You may say that investing in black shark technology is not the layout of XR terminals. This is true, but extracorporeal circulation can be compared with in vivo car building.

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

In other words, it means to take the lead in the design and hand over the production to external manufacturers. It is reported that black shark technology is working with Tencent to produce VR head displays.

Tianmei, what are photons doing

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

As mentioned above, Tencent established XR department to explore game content and hardware. The author believes that this front XR combat force carries a mission on its shoulders and is more about exploration than commercialization. So the question is, who will undertake the important task of commercialization?

The answer to this question must be clear to everyone. Naturally, it is the major game studios. 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%.

From the information disclosed so far, photons are a little ahead of XR. Not long ago, photonics announced the establishment of the photon universe platform and officially launched the new overseas brand name "Lightspeed studies".

From 2008 to 2022, with more than 50 end-to-end mobile game products such as "peace elite", "hero League mobile game" and "fighting God of war", photonics has shown us that it adheres to the concept of independently developing high-quality games. But in the next decade, or the emergence of the next Internet information terminal, can they still be so.

As Chen Yu, vice president of Tencent and President of photonics studio group, mentioned in an open letter to all employees of photonics, photonics has accumulated some new technologies and formed some mobile terminal R & D advantages after so many years of R & D. However, in the face of the new generation of host and PC platform technology, VR, AR and other new generation hardware, the research and development of photons has not been in-depth.

Or based on this long-term thinking, photonics has implemented 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 be the R & D innovation and coordination center, responsible for the overall planning of photonics' overseas R & D collaboration and global operation, and exploring the cutting-edge technologies such as AR, VR and cloud games.

Looking back, Tianmei did not disclose much information in XR. However, we can find some clues from yaoxiaoguang, President of Tianmei studio group, in his speech and production concept.

As early as 2016, yaoxiaoguang said publicly that one generation can replace the previous generation in modern society because of the innovation of using tools. The development of the game industry is similar to it. The changes in input devices, output devices and storage devices have made a major breakthrough in the game industry.

In view of the fact that VR devices were not yet mature at that time, yaoxiaoguang believed that it would take a long way to completely change the game experience through VR.

An important landmark on this road is Nanchang subsidiary. Last September, 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 in charge at that time repeatedly emphasized the deepening of VR industry game content production. This makes people suspect that Tianmei Nanchang business will be involved in XR game content.

Perhaps yaoxiaoguang's concept of protein games can better explain some things: "as professional gamers, in addition to achieving the company's revenue goals, have we ever considered such a question: what benefits can our undertakings in the next ten or twenty years bring to our loyal users?"

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

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