How Wolf3D will change the way people express their identities in virtual worlds
A couple of months ago we welcomed the virtual avatar startup Wolf3D to our portfolio as we participated in their $1.3M seed round, led by Trind Ventures. As our first investment in the gaming and virtual worlds sphere, we’re excited to follow Wolf3D’s journey of helping people bring their true identities to virtual worlds.
Pandemic accelerating a trend towards virtual worlds
It is quite apparent how gaming and virtual worlds have benefitted from the global lockdown situation: with schools, gyms, bars and a big chunk of businesses shutting down or switching to remote, people suddenly have had lots of extra time and resources, which they could mostly only spend at home.
At the same time, the need for human interaction, although now searching for new formats and venues, persisted. While most of us started having one Zoom call after another, a growing number of people (especially adolescent part of the population) also started hanging out in games and what has been termed “virtual worlds”.
“Games have become social media platforms — most of what people do in games these days is socializing,” said Timmu Tõke, the founder and CEO of Wolf3D.
Illustrating the trend, Travis Scott’s record-breaking Fortnite concert back in April gathered more than 12M people in a virtual space.
Like video conferencing, people hanging out in virtual worlds is actually not a new trend, but one which has significantly accelerated during the pandemic. A study done already in 2017 showed that kids spent more time in Roblox (an online game platform where young developers can create their own virtual worlds) than in any other entertainment platform. Looking at the current year, Roblox monthly users jumped from 115 million in February to 150 million in July 2020.
Avatars people can connect with
Typical to a virtual world is the fact that they are populated by many users who can create an avatar (a visual identity of the participants persona), and simultaneously and independently explore the virtual world, participate in its activities and communicate with each other.
The problem is that as these avatars are not reminiscent of the person who is behind the screen — users participating in virtual worlds still cannot easily show their real-life identities. The avatars can at best be customised by outfit and basic features of a human distinction — an area where Fortnite generated $2.4B in 2018 by having users purchase different customizable characteristics.
This is where Wolf3D shines by creating personal avatars from the actual camera feed of ones smartphone or webcam — a representation of the virtual personality that people actually feel an emotional connection with. The team believes that the future of our gaming identities is going to look a lot more like our social media profiles — a curated version of yourself that looks a bit different depending on the environment and use case but always ties back to your real-life identity.
Team among the smartest in the field
Wolf3D team is originally from Tallinn, but with the remote-first approach have now scattered all over the world. And they are hiring so if you want to participate in one of the fastest growing industries and work with the top game and VR developers then you are welcome on board.
The team is now working on a cross-platform avatar service where their avatars can then be easily used within multiple games and platforms. The solution will be a link between many different virtual experiences, adding them together into one big virtual world that users can explore seamlessly with their avatar and the same set of friends. The aim is to simplify players’ gaming experience across many virtual worlds so that users would not have to create new avatars every time.
Wolf3D’s short-term goal is to make this tech available for small and mid-sized developers and they’ve already launched the web-based avatar generating tool for VR which is called Ready Player Me. In there users can create selfie-based avatars in a matter of seconds. Give it a try!