Established Polyscape Inc. Aiming to create a virtual world where people can live more freely.

Hiroki Shimada
12 min readApr 5, 2022

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As I mentioned in the previous article, I quit as CEO of LAPRAS in February 2022 and established a new company, Polyscape Inc. on February 22, 2022. Today we issued a press release on the establishment and seed financing of the company. At the same time, the official website has also been released.

Website: https://www.polyscape.io/en
In this article, I’d like to talk about Polyscape’s mission, the world the company is trying to create, and the roadmap to the future.

Creating a virtual world where people can live more freely.

“Creating a virtual world where people can live more freely.” This is Polyscape’s mission statement. The details will be described later, but in short, it means creating a virtual world where people can “live” in the true sense in order to make people more free. There is alrady a virtual world where you can stay as if you were living, but there is still no place to live in the true sense of the word(the meaning of “living in the true sense” will be described later). After all, you still have to work in the real world to sustain your life. Currently, you cannot choose the world in which you live. The real world is a nice place, but there are also things that constrain our freedom, such as birthplace, nationality, gender, relationships, physical location and bodily limitations. If a virtual world is created, people will be able to live with unconstrained imagination, and if they wish, they will be able to have jobs and relationships in that world.

The world that Polyscape wants to create

At this point in time, I think that the following three conditions are necessary for the virtual world to become a truly livable world.

Condition 1: Make it a place people want to stay forever

This means whether the world has a valuable experience, and whether it’s a place you feel you really belong. This leads to how much time you want to devote to the world. In a world without this element, even if people can make a living (make money) they will not prosper in the long run because people there are not willing to spend time fundamentally, and cannot grow like a platform. In a sense, it’s the most important factor.

Condition 2: Make it Endless

This means in this world, there will be unlimited contents for the player in order to maintain interest. There is a mechanism for content and events to continue to be produced infinitely. This seems to be an element contained in 1, but It is often the case when players are invested in these worlds, they tend to think they will either stay for as long as they can or they will run out of things to do.

Condition 3: Make it a place where you can earn a living

This means that you can maintain your life in reality through activities in the world. If this is achieved, even if you are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, you will be able to make a living in reality, and you will not be restricted by your time. As a result, the world has an economic zone, a flow of exchange in value and money. We believe that elements like Play To Earn are not just a purpose, but a way to enable us to stay and live forever.

As of 2022, is there a world that meets all of these conditions ? VR Chat, Neos VR, and Minecraft are “endless” because users continue to produce content, but there are currently fewer opportunities to make a living. Some people play MMO games like FINAL FANTASY XIV and Fortnite for more than 10 hours a day, but the notion of gamers staying longer is tied up with the limited content production of the operation, so it will run out and therefore they will be unable to make a living. Some people make a living at Axie Infinity, but it’s doubtful that they’ll want to stay forever, and the range of things they can do is narrow, so it’s no more than just a game.
Personally, I think that condition 1 is the most important, and many of the current projects called Metaverse cannot meet that condition and become like a “medium” that extend the reality in order to fulfill specific errands rather than a “world”. (Of course, I think that Metaverse as a medium that extends reality also has a certain value and market size.)

What if we could create a virtual world where people can live more freely?

That’s the story of the mission. The vision for me is what the world will look like after the mission is completed, and now I will talk about our vision.

The economic scale of the virtual world can be as large as or larger than the real one

We believe that the economic scale of the virtual world can be as large as or even larger than the real world. Because it is natural to assume that the money you spend is proportional to the time you spend there. If you can make a living in the virtual world and work in the virtual world on weekdays, you will stay in the virtual world for 8 to 10 hours or more a day. You may need more types of clothing to wear in the virtual world than you do in the real world, and as a result you could be more likely to spend money on it. On holidays, there may be days when you go camping or go golfing in the real world, but if entertainment such as events and parties become possible and popular in the virtual world, real world expenses could decrease.
According to a survey by the Statistics Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, human activities can be divided into the following three categories.

  • Primary activities (physiological activities): sleep, meals, personal affairs
  • Secondary activities (obligatory activities): commuting, attending school, work, schoolwork, housework, nursing care, shopping
  • Tertiary activities (leisure activities): mobile, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, relaxation, learning, research, hobbies, sports, social activities, dating, socializing

This may be a bit extreme, but for some people their activities in the real world may eventually only include primary activities. At least, it can definitely be said that virtual activity will expand to include both ​​tertiary activities “and” ​​secondary activities. This is a paradigm shift.

Individuals are able to shine more

Internet services such as Twitter and Youtube have made it possible for nameless individuals to post their words and works in public, and in some cases even make a living. The birth of a livable virtual world will accelerate this trend. In the virtual world, you can take on the challenge of launching a virtual fashion brand or launching a store that provides services with lower risks than in the real world. Spaces such as land are also cheaper than in the real world, so it’s not difficult to buy your own land to advertise on or start a service on. Even if you are not famous in reality, you could become famous, have fans, and make a living in your favorite world. And since it doesn’t matter what age or place you live in, there might be a future where children sell items or win battles in the virtual world to earn more than adults. The existence of a virtual world and the right to choose it will accelerate human freedom and creativity, and realize a world where individuals can shine more.

Real and virtual are not mutually exclusive

After we have created a virtual livable world, you can choose the world you live in, but that doesn’t mean that everything else is cut off. Of course, you can come and go with each other, and you can enrich both your worlds. If you have a job in the virtual world, you can balance it with your real job and add income as a side business, like working in the real world three days a week and working in the virtual world for the rest of the week. Also, as depicted in Sword Art Online (Japanese Anime), if interoperability between metaverses such as exporting SAO avatars to GGO is realized, it may be possible to live in multiple worlds at the same time. Anyway, in a society we aim to realize, the existence of a new world does not limit freedom, it simply gives you more choices.

There are other changes that can occur, but for now, let’s leave it at this level. We will continue to send information gradually as we can see the future more clearly

Our strategy for virtual livable world

As you can imagine, the road to accomplishing the mission is very long and requires huge amounts of money and people. Therefore, it is not a good idea to tackle the final task in the first place, and the order in which the business is promoted becomes important. As I consulted with some people for a month, I gradually began to find out how to climb.

By the way, one of the conditions of the world we want to create is that people can make a living from the activities of the world, but blockchain is likely to be a powerful tool for that. Cryptocurrency and NFT infrastructure makes exchanging values with strangers overwhelmingly easy. It’s not impossible to implement it without blockchain like Second Life’s LindeX, but considering the worldwide transaction and security, it’s far easier to use the blockchain infrastructure. So, eventually, content development using blockchain will be inevitable. And although the shape of the virtual world we are trying to create is still unpredictable, it is possible that the MMO game might have a value transaction mechanism (Condition 3) and a mechanism to guarantee the infinity of the content (Condition 2). For convenience, we’ll call this an “on-chain MMO”. In creating this, we have formulated the following roadmap.

PHASE1: Starting from an off-chain game

In the first stage we develop simple off-chain games to train the content power. In other words, we will develop the content business for several years after our founding. There is a reason to start from the content business. This is a hypothesis that I believe, but I think that the Metaverse, which people want to stay in on a daily basis, develops around games. In order for the Metaverse to have a greater presence than it already has, the time spent there is key. People will not try to gather in an empty space. Sociality can also be an attraction that people want to spend time on, that space combines content and sociality like an MMO , this will exert even stronger attracting power. Also, this is my personal opinion, but honestly I wouldn’t go to the place like virtual Shibuya and virtual Harajuku on the Metaverse. Even if I go there once, I don’t want to repeat it and stay on a daily basis. As another example, I think Fortnite started to be the Metaverse because it has a strong attraction that makes people to spend time as a battle royale game, and then it start to have platform elements such as events and creative elements.

How many hours a week do you play Fortnite? (Quoted from Fortnite — The All-Consuming Gaming Hype (statista))

The reason we enter the content business is to spend several years honing our content as a game. The content power that is refined here (after all, the team power that can create content) creates the state of “I want to stay forever” in condition 1 above. Blockchain technology is also important for operating the Play To Earn system, but it is rather a requirement, not a competitive advantage.
To that end, we initially start from the off-chain gaming area. This first project will release small titles quickly without making it huge. This has the aim of creating a team with strong content power, but with the aim of achieving profitability at an early stage, stabilizing the cash position as a company, and making it easier to use the funds procured in equity for growth investment, from development to release. There is also the aim of quickly accumulating knowledge by completing one round of the cycle at the fastest speed.
By the way, of course, we plan to localize this title in English and make it a worldwide release.

PHASE 2: Solving the problems in Play To Earn games

We may release several titles before we move to PHASE 2, but in any case, we will start developing games with Play To Earn elements. Currently, Play To Earn has various challenges.

  • Non-zero-sum games (login bonuses, free participation in PvP, etc.) tend to increase market distribution of tokens and reduce the value of tokens in long term. An example is the Axie Infinity SLP token, listed below.
SLP token price (one of the tokens used in Axie Infinity) for the past 6 months
  • In a zero-sum game, the player who loses does not participate and the liquidity is lost.
  • It won’t work in the long run unless there are more people in the economy than there are people out (the tokens can’t be converted into cash if there aren’t always buyers of the tokens). You have to keep the positive cycle.
  • If you make money in a game, a commercial trader who makes money will participate and the playability will be lost. An example is the blockchain MMORPG MIR4 . That game is filled with commercial bots trying to mine items that can be exchanged with crypto currency. The similar thing has happened with Diablo 3, which has officially approved RMT in the past.
  • The breadth and quality of the content is still poor, and many NFT games are in a situation where they players play it because they can earn money instead of doing it because it is fun (as a result, it leads to the above problem).
  • There is a high threshold for purchasing cryptographic assets and NFTs, such as the inability to make credit card payments in major countries. As a result, not many players participate.

I won’t go into detail here, but simply changing the in-game currency to crypto assets does not make Play To Earn long-term, and it requires some design. PHASE 2 is to face such issues, develop on-chain game titles, and in some cases seek solutions including such infrastructure solutions.
Also, if we want to enter this area in earnest, we may need a token sale, but in that case it is legally difficult to do so in Japan, so we are planning to establish an overseas corporation if necessary.

PHASE 3: Building a economic zone in a virtual world

From this phase onward, we will change our business model from content business to platform business. For the sake of convenience, it is written as on-chain MMO, but as the operation progresses, I think that it will be closer to the so-called Metaverse rather than the MMO game; it will be different from what is now called Metaverse. While we will keep in-house production of contents, the players also can use the system to create assets in the world. For example, fashionable clothes, weapons, furniture, useful tools, and other items, as well as stories and monetize from them. They can even post advertisements promoting their virtual contents on their virtual land. We can take a small commision of their profit. However, since the ownership of the land or space where the advertisement is placed may also belong to the individual because of NFTs, the conventional Web 2.0 type monetization does not always work. It’s still unpredictable.
The collaboration of centralization and decentralization is very important. Due to the recent Web3.0 boom, there are people who say that decentralization works for everything, but great contents of the past, such as FINAL FANTASY ,The Legend of Zelda etc seems to have been created with a relatively hierarchical approach. Personally, I think the it is better to create the core system, framework, and core content in centralized way, and mass production of the content should be done in a decentralized and collective manner. For that reason, the key is the high content development ability as a game cultivated in PHASE 1 and 2.
PHASE 3 is just the beginning. We will make the world livable and increase its population afterwards. By that time, we will see challenges that we couldn’t even imagine. This strategy is also based on what is currently visible, so it will change depending on the progress of the business in the future.

Lastly

Since it is still under planning, the direction may change significantly, but I will post some screenshots of the work that is currently planned to be released as the first off-chain title. For now, we plan to release it worldwide as a game for PC on platforms such as Steam. I think we will be able to provide furthur information sometime soon. As a company, I think we will enter the phase of gathering employees in the meantime, so I would like to concentrate on hiring for a while. Thank you for staying with us until the end!

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Hiroki Shimada

CEO at Polyscape Inc. / Producer & Director of MISTROGUE / ex CEO at LAPRAS Inc. / MSc in Artificial Intelligence at University of Edinburgh