“QQ Show” rushed to the meta universe, why are young people still playing face-squeezing apps? |The Great Navigator

Remember ZEPETO, which became popular on the Internet in 2018?

You can pinch Memoji without using iPhone X. This App will save you more than 10,000!

Pinching faces, dressing up, taking photos with friends, and generating emoticons, ZEPETO that year once caused the entire network to swipe the screen, and even topped the social rankings of the App Store in China. Later, ZEPETO launched the Chinese version of Cub Cub, but it slowly disappeared from the mainstream sight and became a representative product of "short-lived".

Unexpectedly, after 3 years, it turned into a meta-universe player.

You want to ask, what does pinching your face have to do with the meta universe?

To put it simply, Metaverse describes a virtual world in which you can engage in immersive interactions such as social interaction, work, entertainment, fitness, and education. The avatar is your digital avatar and personalized expression in this "new world". You are free to choose what you like, transforming into an astronaut, a fierce lion, or a cute kitten.

▲ You can check Facebook, oh no, it's Meta's imagination of the meta universe

From game characters to social platforms, we have been shaping the "other me" on the Internet for at least 20 years. Mankind's love of pinching faces is behind self-identification and social expression; and the explosion of the concept of "meta universe" today seems to have injected new imagination into it.

We tried to study several face-squeezing products to see how they use "Meta Universe" to create new stories.

Pinch your face + socialize, be a virtual playground for young people

Although ZEPETO has always positioned a social product, when it went out of the circle in 2018, most users only regarded it as an interesting mapping tool, and did not really stay social.

And now ZEPETO, the social scene has become richer. The most interesting one is the virtual world with various themes.

You can randomly enter and meet strangers, or you can create your own room and invite friends. Break into the Halloween haunted house and scream, camp under the stars and watch the campfire in a daze, come to a skiing or parkour competition… Every day, your avatar can have a different life experience and make different new friends.

▲ Camping at ZEPETO

The "icing on the cake" for this virtual world is ZEPETO's cooperation with brands, celebrities and film and television IP.

Even if you can't afford Gucci, you can go to the virtual "Gucci Manor" to take an elegant selfie. The newly opened online celebrity shop Gentle Monster, you can come here to check in and try on sunglasses. Fans of the Korean girl group lingered in "BLACKPINK House", while Pixar fans were busy exploring the carnival scene of "Toy Story 4".

From Travis Scott’s virtual concert in "Fortnite" to "Assemble!" In "Animal Crossing", weddings and graduation ceremonies are held, and the boundaries between online and offline are becoming blurred.

In September last year, the South Korean girl group BLACKPINK also held a fan meeting at ZEPETO. More than 46 million fans poured into the virtual world and lined up for a photo with the idol avatar. The scene was quite magical.

▲ Containing the idol scene

▲ The avatars of BLACKPINK members. ZEPETO’s investors include JYP, YG and other Korean entertainment companies, and have many idol cooperation resources

Currently, ZEPETO has more than 200 million registered users, 80% of which are under 20 years old. The official slogan is "Enjoy another world with one's own virtual characters (Another me in another universe)", and Korean media call it "a playground for young people."

The main focus is "Face Pinching + Social," and IMVU , which was founded in 2004.

IMVU claims to be "the world's largest social network based on avatars". Compared with ZEPETO, its style is more mature in Europe and America, but the core gameplay is similar. It is all about squeezing the face before starting social networking.

The various virtual rooms of IMVU have a more party atmosphere. You can fight and dance with strangers in nightclubs, watch the sunset in a seaside villa, take selfies at a rooftop party, and leave a reward for the room owner. According to official data, IMVU has more than 7 million monthly active users, and users spend an average of 55 minutes playing here every day.

▲ IMVU interface

In addition to squeezing faces and socializing, both ZEPETO and IMVU have launched creator programs. Creators can create their own virtual world/room through the tools and tutorials provided by the government, and they can also design virtual clothing for sale, and gain income from it, turning ideas into real money in the real world.

@lenge is one of the first ZEPETO creators. Originally, she was just a college student who didn’t understand 3D modeling. After groping to design the first virtual costume, she earned more than 3 million won (about RMB) in the first month. 16,369 yuan). So far, @lenge has sold a total of 1 million products, has more than 400,000 fans, and has become the head creator of ZEPETO.

▲ Virtual costume designer @lenge

IMVU creator @Angelskiss2007 originally only wanted to design clothes for her avatar. Unexpectedly, this experience inspired her career. Now she has become a web developer. And @Roy said that he has established a lasting friendship at IMVU, gained a sense of community, and can also make a living through the things he likes, and feel very satisfied.

According to IMVU data, creators can earn more than 8 million U.S. dollars from the platform each year.

▲ IMVU has a strong fashion atmosphere, and the official has even held a virtual fashion show

Virtuality and reality intersect in these products of Metaverse.

Available across platforms, your meta universe pass

Speaking of avatar technology company Genies, I have to mention their "star-studded".

At present, Genies cooperates with more than 2000 celebrities and provides them with virtual image production, including Justin Bieber, Cardi B, Rihanna, etc. In May of this year, Warner Music also announced a cooperation with Genies to develop avatars and digital wearable NFTs for its singers.

▲ Justin Bieber uses an avatar to announce cooperation with Amazon Music

When it first launched in 2017, Genies hoped to beat Snapchat's Bitmoji. But now the goal is different:

When entering the meta-universe, everyone needs a digital identity. And Genies wants to be your first choice.

▲ Genies pinch face interface

CEO Akash Nigam said that Genies plans to talk about hundreds of partners in the future, allowing users to carry their avatars with them via the Internet.

Back in 2018, when Genies' face-squeezing effect was still "big head doll", they did not choose to turn themselves into a social platform like ZEPETO, but launched a software development kit (SDK), hoping to allow users to Other apps use their own avatars.

▲ Genies image of the “big head doll'' version

In October last year, Genies changed the overall vision of the avatar from 2D to more three-dimensional 3D, updated the SDK toolkit, and announced a partnership with Gucci and Giphy.

The new generation of 3D avatars can be applied to AR/VR platforms, and the relevant person in charge of Genies believes that these updates will "help consolidate Genies' status as a universal digital identity."

"Fortnite" can make more than $1 billion a year by selling game skins, but outside of the game, these clothing accessories are worthless. In order to make your avatar truly belong to you and be able to "carry it with you", Genies also announced that it will cooperate with the NFT development company Dapper Labs to launch a digital goods market where you can buy your favorite limited running shoes, gradient dream jackets, and unique Horned beast headgear… They will all become your digital assets.

Nigam said that in the future, it will even provide users with tools, whether they are 6-year-olds or 16-year-olds, they can design and sell their own wearable digital devices and products. He hopes that the future Genies can become a "decentralized Disney."

Compared with Genies' various future visions, Ready Player Me is significantly more down-to-earth.

The name of this avatar platform comes from the movie "Ready Player One" (Ready Player One). It hopes to become your "Meta Universe Pass". Currently, more than 680 apps and games are supported.

It’s easy to create an avatar in Ready Player Me. You can generate a basic look from a selfie, then pinch your face to fine-tune various facial features, and change into your favorite clothes and hairstyle to quickly generate it.

It is a bit like your "private cloakroom", where you can create and manage multiple avatars of different styles, and import them into supported apps and games at any time. CEO Timmu Tõke said:

Metaverse will be a collection of thousands of virtual worlds. The goal of Ready Player Me is to be the connecting point of these worlds, where people can create an easily recognizable identity and carry it with them, without having to create an avatar from scratch in each application.

Now, even Snapchat has launched a 3D version of Bitmoji and released an SDK toolkit, expressing the hope that Bitmoji can be used in games in the future.

▲ Bitmoji for Games

The future "Meta Universe Pass" is likely to be in full bloom.

"I can be anyone in this world"

The game is 5 minutes, and the face is pinched for 2 hours. When "Cyberpunk 2077" is available, it can be pinched for a long time. It can even make the Harry Potter mobile game addicted; there are enthusiastic players who are willing to spend 2000 yuan to customize a happy face, the game pinches Face-skilling has become a niche profession with a "monthly income of 100,000"… The pursuit of individualized expression by human beings can be seen in the current face-squeezing in the game field.

In the future, will this kind of large-scale spending will also appear in the meta universe?

There are a lot of discussions about the meta-universe. Although they may only touch on its fur and prototype, everyone is looking forward to and believing that this will be a more free space for expression——

You can explore everywhere you like. No matter how absurd the avatar is, it will become a reasonable existence in the meta-universe.

Nigam pointed out that the virtual image of Metaverse can make everyone an "ideal version" of themselves, without worrying about any limitations and constraints of the real world, and can show more of their true self.

If I want to rock, I can become rock. I can be anyone in this world.

In any case, the pinch product has indeed found a new story for itself.

Today, "meta universe" has become a concept favored by capital. Taking ZEPETO as an example, some analysts claim that its value has increased by at least 10 times compared to two years ago. According to the "Korea Economic Daily" report, ZEPETO's operating company Naver Z is currently in a new round of financing negotiations, and the amount is expected to reach 200 billion won (approximately 1.1 billion yuan).

So the question is: If you pinch your face for you in the meta universe, what kind of avatar do you want?


What is this generation thinking, looking for, and believing?

The answer may lie in the Internet products they use, indulge in, and create.

Good products will grow into powerful companies and brands by virtue of their awesome models, and even shape the consumption behavior and lifestyle of a generation. We hope to use the product innovation model as a window through the "Great Voyager" column to look at the world with you, discover the fire, and capture the trends of tomorrow in advance.

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