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Wolf3D has launched its Ready Player Me cross-game avatars for the metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One.
The avatars are already being used in more than 260 games and apps, and now players will be able to create custom avatars that they will be able to take between video games, virtual reality experiences, and other apps using a single virtual identity.
Wolf3D’s platform allows users to travel between video games, virtual reality experiences, and other apps using a single virtual identity, said cofounder Timmu Tõke in an interview with GamesBeat.
“We’re trying to build a cross-game service to enable a lot of virtual worlds to exist,” Tõke said. “We see more people spending more and more time in virtual worlds. The metaverse is kind of happening around us. But most of it isn’t happening in one world or one app. It’s a network of many different worlds that people visit for work and play and collaboration. And doesn’t really make sense for the end user to create a new avatar identity for each of those experiences. It makes sense to have one portable entity that travels with you across many different games and apps and experiences.”
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For developers, it takes a lot of time, and resources to build. Wolf3D takes that task off the the hands of the developers and it can integrate its engine into a game in a matter of days, Tõke said.
“The developers can focus on the core experience of the game,” Tõke said. “Our background is building out the systems for enterprise customers.”
The door to the metaverse
Tõke said he sees the avatar hub as opening the door to the metaverse, which the company sees as eventually giving access to a wide range of applications across gaming, VR experiences, and beyond. The company has already collaborated with several key games and app partners to date, including Tencent, Verizon, and HTC.
Ready Player Me provides players and developers with plug-and-play tools for easy integration of its avatar system to any virtual world or game engine. Removing the need to create a new avatar for every new app or game, users simply sign in with Ready Player Me and travel through the metaverse with a uniform 3D avatar. The avatars have a realistic look, so you can make them look like you. But they have a kind of animated 3D cartoon style to them.
The adoption growth rate of Ready Player Me avatars is 40% per month among the game and app makers who are making them available in their products.
The avatars are really about usability and giving people a great experience. Rivals include Genies, which has raised $65 million and is also making cross-game avatars that use nonfungible tokens (NFTs), which can uniquely identify digital items such as avatars. Crucible also sees avatars as the key tech to make the metaverse into a mainstream, easily navigable universe. Over time, Wolf3D will have its own solutions related to NFTs, but it’s not making a big bet on them at the moment, Tõke said.
“The goal is obviously to be the avatar for the metaverse and we believe that comes from being the best developer,” he said. “We want to have the best tools for avatar production.”
Currently, a user can submit one photo and the first version of an avatar is created in a matter of seconds. People can then modify it as they wish. Avatars such as Epic Games’ MetaHumans are more realistic, but Tõke believes it will take time before such avatars make their way into the market.
Ready Player Me is working with online social platform VRChat, streaming app LIV.tv, and VR game store SideQuest, in addition to non-VR apps such as social platform Koji.
The platform, created by Wolf3D, has built avatar systems for Huawei, H&M, TCL, NTT DoCoMo, and others. Ready Player Me’s user-friendly software, which creates customized avatars based on a single photograph, has been quickly adopted among players of some of the biggest gaming communities around the globe.
The company’s VRChat avatar creator, released earlier this year, was used to create more than 30,000 personal avatars within the first 24 hours of its release. Wolf3D was founded in 2014 by Tõke, Kaspar Tiri, Rainer Selvet, and Haver Järveoja. It has been developing selfie-based digital avatar technology for the past seven years with a mission to power the next generation of online identity creation.
The company originally started with hardware booths that scanned images of people. It scanned about 20,000 people and put them in a database that enabled the company to easily build avatars based on its selfies. That became the core technology for the company.
“It allows people to visit many worlds and not start from scratch,” Tõke said.
In 2020, Wolf3D launched the Ready Player Me avatar creator for developers, kick-starting the company’s track record in becoming the avatar identity standard for the metaverse. To date, Wolf3D has raised $3.7 million from U.S. and European investors including former Rovio marketer Peter Vesterbacka, CTRL Labs’ Joshua Duyan, and Bolt CEO Markus Villig.
The company currently employs 30 people in 10 countries. Tõke said is in Estonia at the moment but he is likely moving to Los Angeles. The company is raising a round now.
As for the name of the platform — based on the Ready Player One book — Ready Player Me is a reference to the idea that the metaverse should be about you, the player at the center of the metaverse, and it should not be about one company or entity controlling the entire metaverse, Tõke said.
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