Where is China in the metaverse race?

Metaverse has become the new buzzword in 2021 for China, and tech giants are busy planning their way into this new virtual world. Alibaba has recently launched its “Metaverse Art Exhibition” to boost its sales during Double 11 shopping festival.

In August, ByteDance invested 9 billion RMB in acquiring virtual reality hardware maker Pico. Tencent started creating the embryo of the metaverse as early as 2019 by partnering with the $45.3 billion Roblox, the world’s top video platform that allows users to create programs themselves and design avatars to live in the virtual world in whatever way they want.

All the concepts around metaverse sound exciting, but what is it exactly? In China, the development of a metaverse is considered to be in two phases. The first phase sees a real-life simulated virtual world in social and entertainment activities featuring a 3D immersive experience. With the help of virtual avatars, daily life extends into the parallel online world, creating an authentic experience for the users. In this phase, the metaverse is found mainly in gaming.

Then, it will move on to the next stage, where the simulated world further expands across different industries. New technologies like augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality will alter how people work, shop, and enjoy all other services. The boundary between the real and virtual worlds starts to blur in this phase.

Where is China now, in terms of the construction of this metaverse? Most Chinese tech companies’ focus is developing underlying technologies for the first phase, such as 5G, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence.

When western tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft are already on their way to the new world, China is still fighting to catch up. An insider in China’s gaming industry commented that although many companies advertise their investment on metaverse, you rarely see a product coming out.

However, the huge market can’t wait for too long. China’s 278.7 billion RMB gaming market is calling for someone to lead the nation into this new virtual world. In addition, a tremendous interest in virtual celebrities is waving to those ready to make changes happen and bring the virtual experience in China to the next level.

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