The Chinese government is developing its Chinaverse paradigm
China controls the Internet on its territory, so it has its own approach to the creation of popular metaverses, which differs from the Western one. The Chinese government has its own ideas about what a meta-universe should be. Therefore it is planned to create their own platforms on the territory of the People’s Republic of China. They will meet the standards of the Chinese metaworld, the Chinaverse. The Chinese platforms will be based on a centralized blockchain, which will be owned by the government.
For example, Chinese platforms will not be linked to blockchain, because this technology is not trusted by the government. All because of the high risk of fraud and lack of government oversight. That is why China has banned mining and over-the-counter trading since the summer of 2021.
The Chinese authorities are working on the creation of special legislation to regulate the sphere of Chinaverse. A specially created committee on meta-universes – Metaverse Industry Committee – will supervise its implementation.
The developers of meta universes are already prohibited to release their own cryptocurrencies to monetize their projects. And NFT-collections can be sold, but only for the Chinese yuan, without cryptocurrency platforms.
The Chinese authorities plan to use their metaverse to expand the possibilities of socially useful spheres. For example, it will be possible to get education, organize conferences and receive services on the platforms.
Meanwhile, the central government supports the development of the Chinaverse and Web 3.0 as an important link and impetus for the digital economy. According to Zhiyan Consulting, from January to April 2022, the amount of investment and financing for Chinaverse market was 8.12 billion yuan, which exceeded the level of investment for the entire year of 2021. And at the end of March 2022, China’s leading civil servant training school, the Chinese Academy of Administration, launched its “meta-universe + party building” system. According to a March 23 WeChat message from Beijing VR company Mengke, the new system allows party members to meet remotely to study party history, take part in meetings and themed events.
According to a report by the French company Fabernovel, the “metawave” has already reached the Middle Kingdom and is supported by local IT giants, including Tencent, Alibaba, ByteDance and Baidu. For these companies, the metaworld and related technologies, namely virtual or augmented reality, are the latest means of attracting young Internet users (Generation Z).
For several years, the private sector has been actively investing in development and content, and in late 2021, Baidu launched its SaaS product XiRang (translated from Chinese as “Land of Hope”), which is so far only available in the domestic market and is currently the most developed iteration of the metaverse in China. Final development of the platform will be completed around 2027.
In December 2021, Baidu opened its metaverse to the public with the Baidu AI Developer Conference. It can only be accessed by special invitation from a computer, phone, or VR headset.
The metaworld itself is designed as a virtual city with many buildings. On the platform, users can attend conferences, exhibitions, get education and play games. In addition, the platform recreated some Chinese landmarks, and came up with interactive interactions for them. For example, Xi Rang has a Shaolin Temple where you can practice the art of kung fu.
The Xi Rang meta universe mimics the real world in many ways. For example, there is no fast travel. Users’ avatars walk through the metaverse and can use public or private transportation. This is an unusual solution for modern platforms, because Western projects usually have a function to quickly move to the desired part of the map. For example, Decentraland and Cryptovoxels have such a feature.
In order to advance the commercialization of AI technology on the B-side of the customer, Baidu has established a thorough AI ecosystem, with Baidu Brain serving as the primary engine of the underlying technology and being supported by the Flying Paddle deep learning platform, Baidu Kunlun chip, DuerOS platform, and smart hardware.
Metaverse of Alibaba Group
Alibaba Group, the corporation that owns the AliExpress marketplace, could compete with Baidu in China. On December 6, 2021, it registered the company Yuanjing Shengsheng, which will create metaverses.
And Tencent has filed more than 100 trademark registrations for its gaming metaverses. Back in November 2021, it pledged Beijing’s support, subject to Chinese law. Tencent is now one of the giants of the gaming industry and owns 100 percent of Riot Games and 40 percent of Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite. The company is also working on a Chinese version of the Roblox meta-universe with the developers of the original, Western version. It will be called LuoBuLeSi.
Individual City-level Chinaverses
Individual cities in China have decided to develop their own metacities. These platforms will be built on Chinaverse standards. For example, Shanghai and Hong Kong have announced the creation of their own development programs in this area. The two largest cities have already begun to compete.
The city government will allocate $52 billion for the development of its own metaverse. By 2025, Shanghai plans to implement a program to support virtual reality platforms. Within three years, 10 major companies will be created to create a meta-universe. And another 100 companies will develop technology for the platforms.
In August 2022, Shanghai announced the creation of the “Joint Research Institute for Metaverse and Virtual-Reality Interaction”. It will include China’s influential technology companies. The participation of Tencent, Epic Games, Huawei and Migu has already been announced.
Hong Kong Metaverse.
The city government is also planning to integrate the metaverse into education. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology has announced the creation of a student campus in virtual space. Together with it, a curriculum is being developed for the first classroom, where learning will take place using AR technology. These projects are scheduled to open in late 2022.
The university will install dynamic sensors, cameras, and visualization tools specifically for the metaverse. With their help students will be able to attend a lecture, which will be broadcast in a virtual space. It is also planned to hold social events, student parties and graduation parties in the meta-campus.
In 2021, China’s 14th 5-Year-Plan specifically named the blockchain, VR/AR, AI, and cloud computing as key to building China’s digital economy. On the other hand some Chinese analysts believe that many of the companies that applied for registration of the metaiverse did so only to raise interest in their products. In their opinion, these projects will disappear from the market as soon as the public switches to another trend. Or they will change their field of activity, because not all of the declared platforms fit the concept of metaverses.
The Chinese authorities are only willing to support metaverses if they comply with legal restrictions. In this case there is a lot of possibilities for entrepreneurs to get help from government and develop their products further, as officials will encourage the use of the metaverse in such areas as public services, business offices, social entertainment, industrial production, industrial safety and electronic games.
Also, important to remeber that China has full control over the Internet in the country and chooses who to grant permission to open servers. That is why the main foreign social networks are blocked there. Because of this, foreign metaverses will not enter the Chinese market in any foreseeable future and local chinaverse developers will be competing within each other in the coming years. Only time will show how successful this approach will become.