Metaverse: In China, they all want to go to "Yuanyuzhou"
Ever since Mark Zuckerberg declared the metaverse era, there's been more movement in XR. Shanghai is luring innovative companies with tax savings.
The Metaverse can be translated into Chinese as "Yuanyuzhou" - a term that is currently being vigorously trademarked in various contexts, according to Hong Kong's largest English-language daily, South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Meta moves China's tech companies
More than 1360 companies in mainland China have already filed for a Metaverse-related trademark. Three months ago, before Facebook's meta shift and large-scale announcement of its Metaverse strategy, that number was 130 companies.
The total number of applications for individual trademarks is around 8500, with tech giant Tencent alone reportedly registering around 100 Metaverse trademarks in September. This shows how influential Meta is in China as well, although Oculus products are not officially sold there. In the West, better-known Chinese VR and AR companies in terms of hardware include ByteDance (Pico), HTC, Pimax, or Nreal.
Several companies around gaming and online communities such as MiHoYo and Netease (mobile and online gaming), Bilibili (video streaming) and Tencent co-funded startup Soul (AI-powered social networking) are already building their own Metaverses. Soul announced plans for Metaverse at the beginning of the year, including the ability for users to create avatars. The interface, however, is still entirely in 2D. The app currently has around 33 million monthly active users.
Established tech companies such as e-commerce giant Alibaba, Huawei and Hisense are also planning for the Metaverse: Huawei has applied for the rights to a "Meta OS", Alibaba for the "Ali Metaverse" and Hisense for Metaverse services for advertising or social services.
Shanghai wants to promote digital economy
The SCMP further reports that the city of Shanghai plans to promote companies that create platforms for interaction between virtual and real society in the coming year. It said the city government is calling on companies to actively promote the city's digital economy and transformation. Major companies in these fields could expect lower taxes.
"Shanghai and other governments in the Yangtze River Delta are actively investing in the future, focusing on computing, biotechnology and artificial intelligence," said Wang Zhen, vice president of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. "These technologies have the potential to develop into multiple industry clusters and boost the economy and consumption."
Chinese government warns of metaverse
The state media People's Daily reportedly warned of the metaverse in early December, according to the SCMP: Selling virtual property in particular "carries the risk of volatility, fraud, illegal fundraising and money laundering." In the case of NFTs, no clear legal guidelines for transactions existed in China or elsewhere. In November, the People's Daily explicitly warned against metaverse hype, saying that people need to "stay rational to understand the current metaverse mania."