Metaverse

An attendee wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset takes part in a concert experience in the metaverse at the SK Telecom Co. stand on the opening day of the MWC Barcelona at the Fira de Barcelona venue in Barcelona, Spain, on 28 February 2022. (Angel Garcia/Bloomberg)

Metaverse: What is it and who's in control?

The phrase “metaverse” has been bandied about but what exactly is it and how far along is the project? Academic James Pang and entrepreneur Liang Xinjun explain that the implications of this development are larger than most think. The metaverse is not so much a sub-world to enter into on the side but the integration of the real and virtual worlds and economic systems, essentially creating a new world with new governance structures and norms. US and Chinese firms are, of course, racing to get a big slice of the future.
A user demonstrates the Owo vest, which allows users to feel physical sensations during metaverse experiences such as virtual reality games, including wind, gunfire or punching, at the Consumer Electronics Show on 5 January 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP)

Metaverse: Why Microsoft is acquiring Activision

Technology expert Yin Ruizhi notes that Microsoft’s recent announcement to acquire gaming company Activision Blizzard is not just about breaking into the gaming market, but an important step towards building its capabilities to develop the metaverse. Can it succeed and will other Western tech giants follow?
A man wears a VR headset at a booth during the DCentral Miami Conference at the Miami Airport Convention Centre on 1 December 2021 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

Metaverse: Plans of the tech giants

When it comes to the metaverse, the various tech giants are taking different approaches, from conservative to aggressive. Technology expert Yin Ruizhi takes a look at three major players — Facebook, Nvidia, and Tencent — and their respective strategies, and how they are likely to contribute to building the metaverse.
Visitors walk in front of "HOLD ONTO YOUR BITCOIN" by Gustav Szabo, known as Szabotage, which will be converted into NFT and auctioned online at Sotheby's, at the Digital Art Fair, in Hong Kong, China, 30 September 2021. (Tyrone Siu/File Photo/Reuters)

The uncertain future of NFTs in China

The non-fungible token (NFT) is a growing phenomenon in China, despite a cautious regulatory environment and official hostility to cryptocurrencies, which also use blockchain technology. But experts warn that as with every technology, particularly new ones, there is also a risk of misuse, such as in instances of fraud or compromised accounts.
Projects like The Sandbox are centred on NFTs. Players themselves can create their own digital assets in the game – such as costumes and weapons for their avatar – as an NFT. Players can likewise own virtual “land” in The Sandbox’s universe, similarly in the form of NFTs. The land units are represented in a map that forms The Sandbox metaverse. (The Sandbox/SPH)

If Chinese video producers and gamers can become metaverse creators

In this second article in a series on the metaverse, technology expert Yin Ruizhi says that video creation platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou, as well as sandbox games such as Mini World, might give an idea of how users can help create the virtual world in the metaverse if the financial and creative bar is lowered such that participating is as easy as 1, 2, 3.
Visitors are pictured in front of an immersive art installation titled "Machine Hallucinations - Space: Metaverse" by media artist Refik Anadol, at the Digital Art Fair, in Hong Kong, China, 30 September 2021. (Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

Metaverse: A bubble that could soon burst?

One of the hottest buzzwords recently is the metaverse. In this first article in a series on the topic, technology expert Yin Ruizhi explains what the metaverse is, what would make it viable and why creating the metaverse is still very much a pipe dream.
Visitors are pictured in front of an immersive art installation titled "Machine Hallucinations — Space: Metaverse" by media artist Refik Anadol, which will be converted into NFT and auctioned online at Sotheby's, at the Digital Art Fair, in Hong Kong, China, 30 September 2021. (Tyrone Siu/File Photo/Reuters)

Metaverse: A chance to build a better world

Academic Pei Sai Fan says that one should dream big with the metaverse and not only see it as a new avenue of making money. By creating a new virtual universe from scratch, we can make good use of the blockchain-based metaverse to promote an equitable, more transparent and more inclusive rules-based international digital currency and financial system and enhance the global governance system to deal with issues facing all countries. This would require a global approach and China is well placed technologically to actively participate and lead the effort with like-minded nations in creating such a metaverse. It would be a pity if countries squandered such an opportunity to truly build a better world for all mankind.
Computer games are seen at a store in Beijing, China, on 10 September 2021. (Greg Baker/AFP)

Will overregulation kill Chinese firms' metaverse ambitions?

The metaverse is the latest tech industry buzzword that has generated great interest among Chinese tech companies and China's capital market. Not everyone is equally enthusiastic, however, as Chinese authorities appear to be taking a cautious approach, attempting to strike a balance between regulatory control and the risk of stifling innovation. Caixin explores what's in store for the metaverse.
A man plays an online game on a computer at an internet cafe in Beijing, China, 31 August 2021. (Florence Lo/File Photo/Reuters)

A metaverse with Chinese characteristics?

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg recently said, “Think of the metaverse as an immersive virtual world where people can spend time together and hang out, much like you can do today with virtual reality, dialed up to 11.” Stocks of companies working on constructing the said metaverse have been on the rise. China, with its huge video game market, should have a head start in this realm, but authorities are sounding words of caution. They fear the metaverse will be as ephemeral as it seems and worse, even harder to regulate. How will it get a piece of the pie in its own way?