Although the concept of the metaverse as a community of virtual worlds in which people live and work is not new, the topic has recently received new impetus thanks to the efforts of Meta and other Western companies. Chinese tech companies will also be in the game – they are expected to create their own segment of the metaverse, which Morgan Stanley says will be worth $8 trillion.
According to experts, companies like Tencent, NetEase, ByteDance and Alibaba will become the driving force behind the development of the metaverse in China. It is expected that the first areas to be integrated into the Metaverse will be virtual reality in general, the gaming industry and social networks.
According to Winston Ma, Managing Partner of CloudTree Ventures, the metaverse is the future of social media and Chinese tech giants must embrace it to find new ways to engage the youngest generation of internet users.
According to Pony Ma, CEO of the world’s largest gaming company Tencent, the Metaverse will bring growth to existing industries such as the gaming business. In addition, Tencent owns the super app WeChat, which has over a billion users and can also be integrated into the virtual space. According to Ma, the company has many technologies and ideas for the development of the metaverse.
Meanwhile, ByteDance began an aggressive expansion into the gaming market. In August, the company acquired VR headset maker Pico. The company also owns the hugely popular global app TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin. ByteDance’s business interests span virtual reality systems, social media and gaming.
Alibaba announces plans to release augmented reality glasses for virtual meetings. In addition, the company launched a “virtual influencer” for the Beijing Olympics, a digital avatar on the Taobao app that talks about games and promotes products related to the Olympics.
Last year there were reports that another local gaming giant, NetEase, was focusing on developing applications for the Metaverse.
Search giant Baidu last year released the Metaverse app XiRang, a variant of the virtual world that can hold up to 100,000 people at a time. However, Baidu noted that many aspects have yet to be worked out and it will take six years to fully launch. Other large companies and startups are beginning to experiment with the Metaverse.
At the same time, the local metaverse is unlikely to be free from scrutiny – China recently passed new antitrust laws, laws on the protection of personal data, and strictly limits the time spent in online games for underage people. There are indications that new regulatory instruments are also being developed.
At the same time, experts emphasize that the diversity of virtual worlds will not allow creating a body of legislation unified for everyone, each decision must be regulated separately on the basis of existing legislation. In addition, Western experts expect strict censorship in the Chinese virtual segment.
In January, Chinese authorities passed a series of laws governing the use of recommendation algorithms by local internet companies, as well as laws governing the operation of “deep synthesis” technologies associated with software used to create and edit voices, videos or images was developed. The new norms are expected to have a major impact on the direction of development of the metaverse in China.
Even cities and individual regions in the PRC are looking for ways to integrate with the metaverses. Last year, the mayor of Shanghai celebrated the metaverse of the five-year plan for information technology development.
Although China is recognized as one of the leaders in technological development on the planet, some solutions are unlikely to be available to its citizens. Many areas of the metaverse provide for the use of cryptocurrencies, which are banned in China. In return, China is actively promoting the state digital currency – the digital yuan, also known as e-CNY.