Imagine this: the metaverse with Chinese characteristics. That’s how the virtual world that everyone’s talking about will likely look in the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s technology giants are beginning to invest in the metaverse — the latest buzzword in internet technology. It’s a term with no concrete definition, but largely taken to mean virtual worlds that people will be playing and living in.

Censorship will likely be rife and regulation tight as Beijing continues to keep a close check on the practices of its domestic technology firms.

U.S. firms like Facebook parent Meta are going all-in on the metaverse concept, while Microsoft has positioned its proposed acquisition of gaming company Activision as a play on this theme.

Chinese firms are taking a more cautious approach. So what are they up to and how will regulation play out?

What are the apps?

In China, the total addressable market for the metaverse could be 52 trillion yuan, or around $8 trillion, Morgan Stanley said in a note published last month.

Companies like TencentNetEase, TikTok owner ByteDance and Alibaba could be the front-runners in this space among China’s internet companies.


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