As a reminder, the word “metaverse” is a contraction of the words “meta” (which refers to a holistic vision) and “verse” for “universe”. The term refers to a much more advanced digital space than virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality. It’s about extending our reality into shared virtual spaces, modeled in a 3D environment The basic concept of the metaverse is not complicated. Simply put, the metaverse includes any digital experience on the Internet that is persistent, immersive, three-dimensional, and virtual. if Rebranding Facebook automatically comes to mind when we talk about this new universe, with Chinese companies and local governments working to counter the American onslaught.
Chinese local governments enter the metaverse
Municipal authorities in Wuhan and Hefei are both committed to increasing Metaverse mobility over the next few years. For Wuhan, the desire is to integrate metaverse, big data, cloud computing and blockchain into the “real economy,” while Hefei, for its part, has announced that it will favor companies in “advanced fields” including metaverse. As we shall see. Below, several Chinese tech companies want to enter this universe while at the same time, state media outlets are fanning the flames to calm the speculation.
“Everyone has to be rational to understand the current metaverse mania,” People’s Daily, spokesman for the Communist Party. Other newspapers including economic daily, State-run, warned against speculative transactions in the sector. The incentive is to avoid hastily investing in “immature” concepts like the metaverse.
Despite these caveats, other cities are also developing Metaverse initiatives. Perhaps attract new companies to the field. Zhangjiajie City in Hunan Province has launched a metaverse-based research center to help develop its tourism industry. Shanghai said that over the next five years, it will strengthen research and development of Metaverse’s underlying technology, particularly for commercial and industrial applications. Finally, it is the city of Hangzhou, where e-commerce giant Alibaba is headquartered, that has reportedly set up a “Metaverse Committee” that will be made up of business representatives and academics.
If Chinese cities embark on this new virtual world, as you can imagine, companies don’t intend to be left behind.
Overview of Chinese companies with Metaverse sauce
Tencent, the Asian Ogre
Let’s start with the giants of the gaming and entertainment industry Tencent. Clearly the Chinese company can’t beat its American competitors on a potentially revolutionary technology. It should be noted that the company still has a foothold in the Americas, owning 40% of video game development studios: Epic Games And also signed a strategic partnership with it Roblox, a platform that allows users to create virtual worlds. Tencent CEO Ma Huateng told numerous analysts at a conference that:
“The meta-universe is an exciting thing, but it’s a conceptual thing. We’re at a relatively high point to see the metaverse, which is about making the virtual world more real and the real world richer. Tencent has a number of technological modules, including the foundation of interaction and the ability to create social media, AI and community game platforms, like building blocks to create the metaverse.“
Tencent also owns the super social networking app WeChat that lets you chat, shop, order food or book a taxi. An essential app for billions of Chinese. If Tencent is preparing a sensational entry into the metaverse behind the scenes, it could be one of the players promoting mass adoption of this new universe, thanks to its vast commercial empire. In this sense, Tencent filed a registration application last September for one hundred trademarks related to Metaverse, including “QQ Metaverse”, “QQ Music Metaverse” or “King’s Metaverse”.
Baidu, the Chinese Google
The Chinese group unveiled a parallel universe titled Shi Rang (“Land of Hope” in French) last month. As the ambition of various metaverses, the platform proposed by the group’s boss, Robin Lee, will allow its users to communicate with other people who have developed in this land of hope. Playing, having fun, learning, shopping, displaying ads, attending conferences are all activities that the company says will be possible on Metaverse.
There is still a lot of work to do to give users a quality Metaverse experience. Fluid, intuitive and ergonomic on the explosion will be placed in place for widespread adoption. But before seeing an operational platform we have to patiently take our issues, since Baidu Assuming it will take at least six years to come up with an optimal solution. Virtual worlds are available in several media: AR/VR headsets, computers, smartphones, which will help reach a large user base. For the moment the company has not communicated about the economic model that will be implemented for Metaverse. The case will follow in the coming months.
ByteDance pays for Pico
In late summer 2021, the Chinese company acquired VR software and hardware maker Pico. It was founded in 2015 by Zhou Hongwei, who previously served as vice president of Goertek (Meta’s exclusive Oculus foundry). In other words, Mr. Hongwei has a bottle, or should I say, a helmet. Pico holds more than 300 patents covering key virtual reality technology areas such as imaging, optics, acoustics, hardware design, and spatial positioning among others.
Pico’s Goblin 2 model
Bytedance, which owns the popular app TikTok, wants to exploit these technologies in hopes that they will one day be able to offer augmented reality-based resources to its user base. But it does not end here. ByteDance has invested 100 million yuan in Qiankun, a metaverse concept mobile game developer. A kind of Roblox with Chinese sauce. ByteDance seems to fit into the Metaverse Samba.
The Chinese e-commerce giant recently registered a new company in Beijing called Yuanjing Shengsheng to explore the possibilities of the “gaming-metaverse.” In addition, the Company has registered the Chinese version of the trademarks “Ali Metaverse”, “Taobao Metaverse” and “Dingding Metaverse.
NetEase: An island dedicated to the Metaverse
The Chinese company is one of the leaders in video game development and publishing. inevitably, NetEase Metaverse has to be part of the trend, and to do that, it doesn’t jump in the way. It signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the municipal government of Sanya last month. The deal calls for the company to set up its headquarters in Hainan and build an industrial base project based on Metaverse in the capital of the southern island province of Sanya Province.
As part of the deal, NetEase noted that it has “full reserves in Metaverse-related technology, talent and control.” For example, NetEase has advanced technological capabilities in areas such as virtual reality/augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud gaming and blockchain. Tech giant Metaverse has implemented concept products such as the immersive “Yaotai” system, an AI virtual host, and “Planet Blockchain”, a blockchain-based value-sharing platform.. If a China-verse emerges, the company will likely be among the leading players in the field.
A contradictory Chinaverse
While the Chinese state has poured some cold water on the Metaverse initiative, warning of “unwantedness” and “heated speculation” about this new universe, companies across the country have thrown themselves into this virtual world:
Number of trademarks registered in China associated with Metaverse
The only catch for these companies is that the Chinese government may not share Zuckerberg’s enthusiasm for the potential of an immersive, real-time universe of virtual worlds.
In recent months, Xi Jinping’s government has taken a series of steps to try to reduce the role of social media and the Internet in the lives of Chinese citizens. The national video games regulator recently tightened its already strict rules, allowing anyone under 18 to play online games for only one hour per night between Friday and Sunday. We see a sort of conflict between private initiative and the will of government. On the one hand, companies that are developing 100% digital solutions in an immersive virtual world and on the other, a government that wants to limit individuals’ exposure to digital content.
At the same time, China is one of the most advanced countries in the development of Digital Central Bank Currency (MNBC). For example, As of June 30, 2021, about 70 million the wallet opened with more than 70 million transactions with a value of 35 billion yuan (about 5.3 billion dollars). Four months later, the number of digital wallets doubled and the transaction value reached $10 billion. So now it is possible for the Chinese to convert their paper yuan to e-yuan. A much more significant development than in the US, which still raises questions about the actual need and utility of setting up an MNBC.
Ultimately, Chinese companies have nothing to be ashamed of in the face of American metaverse initiatives. Tencent, Baidu, NetEase, ByteDance, Alibaba, among others, all have skills, technologies and, obviously, ambitions to develop metaverse solutions. The big question mark comes from the Chinese state, which seems to be pinching, even beating the wheels of these companies to throw themselves body and soul into this digital world. Even if local governments, as we have seen, seem to be on the same wavelength as private companies, we are not immune to a blow from the state of the metaverse anthill. As a result, American companies will have free rein. Someone’s misfortune is another’s happiness…
Count on me to regularly focus on Chinese and American companies and our European nuggets regarding advancements in the metaverse. Who knows, maybe in the near future I’ll offer you interactive articles on the ZoneBorse Metaverse. A kind of immersive collaboration.