In 2023, China’s metaverse industry is poised for explosive growth, with an anticipated increase of 39.5%, reaching a staggering value of US$1,06,102.8 million, as reported by Research and Markets. This remarkable expansion comes as the Beijing government officially designates the metaverse as a “key industry” despite challenges faced by innovators in the United States and other countries.
Tech Giants Embrace the Metaverse
Major Chinese tech corporations, such as Tencent, NetEase, Alibaba, and ByteDance, have all acknowledged the enormous potential of the metaverse market.
Alibaba, a component of China’s largest technology conglomerate, introduced a luxury metaverse shopping experience in 2022. This immersive AR platform has since become China’s top online destination for high-end brands.
The Chinese government’s prioritization of metaverse development has prompted numerous provinces to plan significant increases in investment. At least six provincial governments and local authorities in ten Chinese cities have released metaverse development plans. Furthermore, Chinese universities are establishing virtual departments dedicated to the metaverse and designing degree programs based on its study.
GlobalData predicts that, in 2023, Chinese investments in metaverse-related technology will surpass those of Western countries.
The Rise of a Key Industry
China’s government has identified the metaverse as a crucial industry for the nation’s future. Therefore, in 2022, it introduced its first national policy to foster the development of related technologies, such as VR, AR, and MR. The Virtual Reality and Industry Application Integration Development Action Plan (2022-2026) delineates the objectives and tasks for the upcoming five years.
Interest in the metaverse has diminished since the rise of popular AI platforms like ChatGPT. Nonetheless, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, has asserted that his company will not abandon its focus on the metaverse. Instead, Meta intends to incorporate “meaningful and useful” AI avatars within its virtual universe.
Google Trends data reveals a significant decline in metaverse interest since January 2022. Critics argue that many projects labeled as metaverse initiatives bear little distinction from existing virtual worlds and that the term itself needs to be clarified. Recently, Reality Labs, Meta’s metaverse division, reported a $3.99 billion operating loss in the first quarter.
Despite these challenges, China’s metaverse industry proliferates, fueled by substantial investments and strong government support. As the country takes the lead in this emerging market, the world watches keenly to see how the metaverse will shape our digital future.
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