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[Interview] Studio X ko, “The core of Metaverse is connection with reality”

Combining Social + Economy + Game elements

'The Matrix', 'Avatar' and 'Ready Player One' What do these movies have in common? It is a film about virtual reality. In particular, Steven Spielberg's sci-fi movie 'Ready Player One' is a film that depicts the metaverse well.

‘Metaverse’ is a hot topic not only in movies but also in the game market. Starting with Second Life in 2006, recently Roblox, Minecraft, and Zeppetto have been gaining popularity. These games are breaking down the walls of the existing game industry and building a new game ecosystem.

Metaverse is a compound word of ‘meta’ meaning transcendence and virtuality and ‘universe’ meaning world and universe, meaning a virtual world that transcends reality. In the metaverse, users create their own avatars to communicate, work, and economic activities occur through transactions.

In addition to VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality), exchanges with the metaverse are active in various areas such as NFT (non-fungible token) using blockchain. In particular, since the MZ generation is a generation willing to pay if virtual reality gives them satisfaction, the barrier to entry is low and various metaverse services for the MZ generation who are familiar with digital trends will appear.

Studio X ko CEO Kim Jung-suk ⓒB-Post

[Interview with Studio X ko CEO Kim Jung-suk]

We met Jungsuk Kim, CEO of Studio X ko, who is developing the metaverse game ‘R Coin Rush’, and talked about the current status of the metaverse market at home and abroad, the game under development and future services.

Q. What is Metaverse?

Metaverse is approached with technical terms such as VR and AR, but metaverse is closer to a concept. Calling it an ecosystem is correct. Metaverse doesn't have to be limited to virtual reality. The metaverse is, by its nature, “connecting the virtual world and the real world”.

Q. Why is the metaverse boom suddenly happening?

'Second Life' released by Lyndon Lab in the United States in 2003, 'Pokemon GO', an augmented reality game that created a boom in 2017, and 'Roblox', a sandbox game that has recently become popular around the world The future. As I said before, it's not entirely new if you take a technical approach. However, under the COVID-19 pandemic, society shifted to non-face-to-face and users began to gather. Like the cryptocurrency craze of the MZ generation, in a social structure with a deep hierarchical ladder, the only market in which the power of the older generation has weakened is also known as the metaverse.

Q. Metaverse is still in its infancy, how do you see the market potential?

Metaverse is a new play space. You can experience a new time and space while playing like a game. Think back to an unfamiliar experience when webtoons appeared in the early days. Although the content, volume, and level of the cartoons were not consistent, as the number of subscribers increased and webtoons naturally grew into an industry, the metaverse will also undergo various trials and developments within the ecosystem after it passes its initial stage. Even just looking at Roblox right now, 400,000 developers and development teams go to work in the virtual world every day. We live in a virtual world, communicate with users, and make money by developing games. Within the metaverse, there are almost no borders or language restrictions, and its own economic activities take place. The digital gold rush era will come to the MZ generation.

Q. How does Metaverse connect the virtual world with the real world?

In the case of metaverse games, when a city or building in the virtual world is linked with a real city or store, rewards or payments are provided when certain missions are performed. For example, when a local government implements an eco-friendly policy, if a citizen living in the area pays the local currency for the distance traveled without using a vehicle, the avatar in virtual reality may replace himself at this time. By connecting the metaverse with ‘reality’, a lot of wonderful services can come out.

Q. Metaverse actively promotes exchanges between different industries. What is the relationship with blockchain?

It will expand the use of cryptocurrency. Currently, it is difficult to use virtual currency as an actual payment method. You can send and receive cryptocurrency within Metaverse. It is also necessary to try to convert (exchange) virtual currency into real money, but it is faster to use it as the currency used within the metaverse. When a shopping mall or brand enters the virtual world, you can buy or sell goods with designated virtual currency without needing to use Korean Won.

Q. Why is the metaverse service developing mainly for games?

The majority of users looking for Metaverse are Generation MZ. These are the generations who were born with smartphones in their hands from birth. For them, the distinction between virtual and real is not so great. The conceptual and technical barriers to entry for the metaverse are very low. In addition, the game contains interesting elements and missions and activities that naturally induce user participation. The user experience (UX) is far more important than technical completeness to the success of the metaverse service. Games are designed and updated based on user experience.

ⓒStudio X ko

Q. Please introduce ‘R Coin Rush’ currently under development.

It is easy to understand when you think of the ‘gold rush’, a phenomenon in which people flocked to the area where gold mines were discovered in the United States in the 19th century. We are developing a game with the concept of going out to mine ‘real coins’ in virtual reality. In the early stages of the game, users can acquire coins when they perform missions or participate in activities, and use the collected coins to use services or shop in the virtual world in the game. One of the experiences we want to deliver to users with this game is the value and satisfaction of virtual assets. Just like any real asset, the value of an asset depends on how many people participate and generate a transaction. In the future, virtual assets will attract attention as an important value.

Q. What would you like to say to market participants interested in the metaverse service?

Some in the game industry even say that the metaverse is the ‘old future’. Virtual reality itself is not entirely new. Whether metaverse is implemented as a sandbox game such as Roblox or a lifelogging service such as ZEPETO, the essence is to connect the virtual and the real. In this regard, if you are planning a metaverse service, you should think about a new user experience that is familiar but not completely new. Technical elements such as VR and AR are relatively secondary. When technology and imagination are combined, you can experience the synergy of the metaverse.

Q. What is the ultimate user experience (UX) that Metaverse is trying to provide?

For Metaverse, it is important to expand related services on a platform-based platform such as Roblox or ZEPETO. The metaverse is an important feature of moving between platforms. By moving from a virtual world to another virtual world, users have a virtual experience that is difficult to experience in real life. At the same time, it bridges the virtual and the real, sometimes crossing the gap between the two realms, creating an integrated experience. You can buy plane tickets and travel in the virtual world, or you can earn real airline miles. The opposite would be possible.

Q. What is the outlook for character (avatar)-related fields among the elements of the metaverse?

For example, in the case of ZEPETO, a 3D avatar is created from a photo. There, you can purchase clothes, hair, accessories, etc. to decorate your avatar to create your own personality. There are also several apps that create 3D avatars, such as ‘Animoji’ for iPhone and ‘AR Emoji’ for Galaxy. A character that replaces me in virtual reality has a very important meaning. The greater the user's desire to identify the character with himself, the more he wants an avatar that resembles me. At the same time, if anonymity is needed even in virtual reality, the desire to express oneself in a character that is not like me, but is difficult to try in the real world, may also increase. Currently, there are a number of developers specializing in avatars (characters) within the metaverse industry.

Q. What are the future plans of Studio X ko?

We are developing the metaverse game ‘R Coin Rush’ with the goal of entering the North American market in February next year. Among overseas markets, especially in North America, the metaverse industry is actively developing and the barrier to entry for users is low, so it is expected to play a role as a test bed market. After launching the game, we plan to collaborate with various software companies to advance the service.

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