The race for investment in metaverse has gained momentum with Chinese technology giants like ByteDance, Alibaba and Tencent have lately made an entry in the segment with a cautious approach due to tighter regulation in the country. The Chinese metaverse could be different from others including Microsoft and Facebook amid government censorship and crackdown on cryptocurrencies.
Metaverse is the latest buzzword in internet technology even though no concrete definition has yet been coined. A wider explanation says it will be a virtual world for people to play and live in. Beijing keeps a close watch on the domestic technology firms and their practices.
It is learned the addressable metaverse market in China could be 52 trillion yuan, which is around $8 trillion and the front runners could be NetEase, Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance. Some of the early applications in the segment could be gaming, social media and virtual reality, and could include creating digital avatars to attend meetings or buying virtual gaming items.
CloudTree Ventures managing partner Winston Ma said the Chinese tech giants need to embrace the future of social networks to find new ways of engaging the young internet users following the saturation of mobile internet.
Tencent CEO Pony Ma stated last November that metaverse could be an opportunity for the company to further add growth as it is equipped with technology as well as know-how to develop the new segment.
Tencent is the largest gaming company in the world and has a strong portfolio of both mobile and PC games. It is the owner of massaging service WeChat, which is equipped with more than a billion users.
ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, has aggressively expanded into gaming lately and acquired virtual reality headset maker Pico last August. Alibaba has set plans to come up with augmented reality glasses for virtual meetings and could be a step towards the metaverse.
Meanwhile, Baidu has launched a metaverse app that is capable of holding up to 100,000 people at a time and its vice president stated that another six years is required until a full launch. NetEase simultaneously is learned working on a metaverse app at its new base in the southern province of Hainan.
Some metaverse apps may rely on cryptocurrencies and this could be a problem in China. The government has banned making payments through digital currency and buying land or item with it would not be possible.
However, Beijing is promoting its own digital currency called e-CNY or digital yuan. It is being guessed the official Chinese crypto coins could be used in the metaverse payment applications.
In the United States, Facebook is working in the development of metaverse and has renamed the company Meta. Microsoft has acquired gaming company Activision lately as a play on the metaverse theme.