Baidu is Launching a Unique Metaverse Platform Amid Strict Chinese Regulation

Chinese search engine giant Baidu said Tuesday its plans to launch its own version of the metaverse are continuing despite strict Beijing regulations.
Image Source: Wikimedia

Quick Take:

  • Chinese technology giant Baidu said Tuesday it will launch its own metaverse.
  • The internet search company’s new platform will not support digital assets amid restrictions from Beijing regulators.
  • Although the company started developing its own version of the metaverse in 2020, it says it could take 6 years before the full launch.

On Tuesday, China’s largest search engine company Baidu said it plans to launch its own version of the metaverse amid strict Beijing regulations. Although the company first hinted about the metaverse last year, it said development started in 2020 and that it could take up to six years before the full launch.

China has been very strict on trading digital assets like cryptocurrencies, a factor that has hindered blockchain adoption in the country. However, Baidu said that in compliance with Beijing regulations, its version of the metaverse will not support digital assets.

The company launched its metaverse-themed mobile application, XiRang, Mandarin for “Land of Hope” last week.

The app allows users to meet and interact with each other in public virtual spaces using their avatars. The metaverse is a digital space utilizing the latest advances in technology including virtual reality, blockchain, and 3D to facilitate interactions between people.

However, the ability to use digital assets like non-fungible tokens is what has contributed to the explosion of the industry, within gaming companies finding a new way to engage with and reward players.

Therefore, although Baidu’s own version of the metaverse sounds interesting, it would be interesting to see how things develop given the more exciting options available elsewhere.

Nonetheless, Xiaofeng Zeng, vice president of Niko Partners thinks that given the amount of time the Chinese people spend online playing games and growing interest in virtual worlds, there is a market for Baidu’s new product.

“Chinese people spend lots of time online, on gaming, video, chatting, shopping or learning. There are many meta concept scenes in the market already. [However,] it depends on how we define the metaverse: if it is virtual in the real world, it’s here; but if it is a real virtual world, it needs more time,” Zeng said when asked about the demand for metaverse worlds in the country.

On the other hand, although Dwayne Ong, a project lead for League of Ancients thinks the increasing number of mainstream adoption of the metaverse is important for growth, he warned that it could disrupt the concept of decentralisation, which is the primary goal of blockchain platforms.

Baidu is not the only Chinese technology giant to experiment with blockchain projects. Recently, launched a limited digital collectibles drop “NFTs”, while Tencent and Alibaba also had their own versions of digital tokens in an earlier launch.

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