Even China cannot escape the metaverse and NFT craze, although its version may be completely distorted.
The country banned crypto and all related services this year, and the Communist Party’s newspaper People’s Daily has reiterated the metaverse’s “risks of volatility, fraud, illegal fundraising and money laundering”. Altogether quite unsurprising, taking into account the Party’s “regulation should be encouraged to come before innovation” position (totally impossible, but good for communist slogans).
However, Chinese tech industry and investors have a different opinion.
The shares of Shenzhen-listed ZQGames skyrocketed 300% since it announced a metaverse game, and Inmyshow Digital gained 60% after the announcement of its social-themed metaverse called Honnverse. Baidu’s first metaverse app Xi Rang (Land of Hope) will be launched on December 27 as a virtual site for an IA conference
Tech giants are applying for “metaverse”-related trademarks en masse: over 7000 applications are waiting for approval, most of them submitted in the last two months.
Among them there’s a certain Tencent, willing to secure “King Metaverse” and “Tianmei Metaverse” (since 2019 the company also has a partnership with Roblox for its Chinese version).
Investments keep up too: Xiaomi invested in VR company Sky Limit Entertainment, TikTok parent company ByteDance – in VR headset maker Pico, Alibaba – in offline VR experience center Sandbox VR… altogether the equivalent of $1.5Bn is estimated to be invested in metaverse-related projects.
It is becoming clear that the interest of the Chinese people in the metaverse and NFTs as a related notion will not go away. The best thing for the government to do now is to promote its own version of these concepts, giving people an illusion of choice, but without relaxing the grip on their lives.
This might have been the reasoning behind an NFT project announced today by the state-owned news media Xinhua. It will drop 10’000 (patriotic) photos in an NFT form to “imprint digital memories into the metaverse.” Surprising move? Not so much. The NFTs will be minted on an enterprise blockchain service provided by Tencent.
Enterprise blockchain = private blockchain = centralized blockchain = glorified database deprived of the main blockchain quality – decentralization.
Most people, however, are not likely to go into details, and will be happy with an illusion of an NFT.
“Metaverse” was the only non-Chinese word elected “buzzword of the year” by both Beijing Language and Culture University and the website Yaowen Jiaozi. It’s a pity that Chinese people will only know a centralized version of it.