Big things have small beginnings, and South Korean 3D and gaming software firm Minkonet's delivery of 3D Replay technology to global gaming smash hit PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) seems to be just that.
PUBG is, of course, already a global phenomenon. An online "battle royale" game, it throws teams of players onto an island to kill each other, with the last surviving team winning. The game launched in Steam early access in March, and has since garnered 30 million players.
Minkonet is now offering 3D Replay and Death Cam features for the game, with the former allowing players to record everything around them in a 1-kilometre radius. The recorded replay can then be viewed from any angle, observed from other players' views, and seen in slow motion. The latter feature provides a 20-second recording following a player's death.
The reaction from the gaming community has been enthusiastic, and many have caught on to what 3D Replay brings. In South Korea, where the game is published by Kakao Games, many are welcoming the feature as an anti-cheat tool, and many are posting recordings of their gameplay, edited in multiple angles like a mini movie.
Here are some of the things this kind of technology will revolutionise, even beyond PUBG.
That videos are the future of media is no secret, especially in streaming and sharing. Take, for example, YouTube. It has more than 1.5 billion users watching an average of 60 minutes of videos every day. In October, CEO Sundar Pichai said the platform was clocking 100 million hours of watch time on living room devices every single day. Taking the cue, Samsung has already repositioned its smart TVs as content hubs.
Gaming videos are a big part of that. Warner Brothers' acquisition of Machinima, a digital studio focused on gaming, for an alleged $100 million, shows how lucrative this niche is. Sharing and streaming videos in gaming is crucial, as players want insight and learning opportunities from other players, and also just the pure fun of watching them -- hence, eSports.
The appetite to share and stream videos on Facebook, Twitch, and YouTube is only growing. But the market has also matured, and advances in technology, hardware, software, and network speed are making people demand more than cute cat videos; they want high-quality, sophisticated content.
Enter 3D, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), mixed realities, and cross-platforms.
New techs like 3D, VR, and AR have been much talked about, but widespread applications previously seemed far off. I have seen some interesting applications, such as Gear VR on Legoland's roller coaster, but none of these really offered fundamental changes or had a wide reach for industries until Minkonet's 3D Replay.
Simply put, the 3D feature on PUBG sets a new standard of replay in the gaming industry. Players can basically churn out their own mini movies or montages of the recorded replay (called "frag movies" or "mad movies" by the gaming community) using the feature's wide option of angles and editing tools.
After toying with it for a few hours, I found the experience as engaging as the gameplay itself. I wish the 1-kilometre radius was even wider, and I'm confident that this empowering feature will engage players further, and have them wanting more.
Backed by PUBG's 30 million players and more in the same genre, we will likely see increasing numbers of interactive videos being shared, especially frag movies on gaming channels on social media.
Outside of gaming, we may also see more kinds of videos, so-called cross-platforms, which marry different mediums (2D and 3D together, for example). Advertisements will, of course, follow; there is a reason why Facebook is taking the long view with VR.
Epic Games -- the owner of the Unreal Engine that is needed for all shooting games, and which publishes Fortnite Battle Royale, PUBG's main competitor -- and other industry giants don't yet have a matching feature, but I am sure they will have no choice but to get on the bandwagon.
"Our multi-camera technology is designed by gamers to ensure optimal design for capturing the most epic, sharable moments. Based on the tremendous response already received in the market, we estimate our technology will inspire at least 1 million hours per day of gaming video content in the coming year," Minkonet co-founder and CEO Peter Kim said.
In the beginning, there were video games. Then came cheating.
Cheating has been a perennial, serious problem for the gaming industry as a whole; rampant hacking in games can shorten their lifespan, and developers are heavily pressured to catch them. The malpractice is enough to have game publishers file multimillion-dollar lawsuits against alleged hackers.
PUBG is no exception, and has suffered its share of hacking. A simple search of "PUBG hack" on Google brings out numerous results that offer players blatant hacking tools.
3D Replay seems a practical, fundamental way to prevent hacking. As it offers the view of other players, users can simply view the player who killed them to make sure there was no foul play. Death Cam then captures that exact moment.
Will it curb hacking for good? Of course not. But 3D Replay and Death Cam are innovative in that they allow players to police themselves and give immediate proof via recording. By being able to view the entire gameplay, and not just the last 10 or so seconds as in other games, one can track the entirety of the cheater's moves. There will be no way around for hackers who are caught red handed.
For online and competitive games, then, 3D Replay could serve as a new policing tool that could potentially save millions of dollars that game developers are forced to spend on anti-hack measures, and could instead be spent on improving gameplay and content.
Last year in March, Intel surprised by announcing a reported $175 million deal to buy Israel-based startup Replay Technologies, which offers 3D and 360-degree video for sporting events. The tremendous live sport market is already embracing 360-degree viewing to "digitise" their offerings.
Ironically, eSports broadcasting remains, frankly, two dimensional. Digitisation is long overdue, but can now be achieved more easily through technologies like those provided by Minkonet: The replay technology provided to PUBG can be easily emulated to offer practically endless camera angles during live game feeds in contests, in comparison to the 20 to 30 physical cameras required at live sporting events.
ESports has remained small compared to live sports, but it is showing exceptional growth -- according to Newzoo, the market will be worth almost $1.5 billion in 2020, over double that of this year's $696 million.
The South Korean firm has its own proprietary data-recording technology; it can upload data in ultra-small packets and stream them in any resolution and format required for any device, including 4K, which means it can basically handle any uptake in current hardware or massive data required for live broadcasting eSports on the big screen.
Placement of advertisements have proven a challenge as well, but technology like in-game native ads, with the advancement of software and hardware, will only grow to give additional incentive for advertisers.
In all, as more and more games like PUBG adopt 360-degree viewing, advertisers may find new revenue streams in eSports while die-hard fans will finally get the viewing experience they deserve.
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