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Tencent Dives Deeper Into Metaverse by Forming ‘Extended Reality’ Unit

Tencent, one of China’s leading metaverse campaigners has added a new dimension to its development and propagation of the emerging technology. In a recent development, the establishment announced to its staff an official formation of an “extended reality” (XR) unit. This represents formal staking of claim and a full launch into the metaverse concept of virtual worlds. 

The new unit which will be led by Tencent Games Global’s Chief Technology Officer Li Shen will be primarily tasked with building up the extended reality business for the company. This includes both software and hardware development processes. It will also form part of the company’s Interactive Entertainment business group.

The extended reality unit of Tencent will be pronounced and prominent. Despite the company’s current trend of cutting costs and slowing down in hiring, over 300 staff are expected to be employed in the extended reality unit. However, the employment process is expected to be dynamic and fluid. Adjustments in staff strength will be a going concern and will be adjusted based on the performance of the unit.

Although the announcement is new, the extended reality unit has been in existence since an earlier part of the year. However, all plans and executions have been underground. The term extended reality describes the immersive technologies that represent the building blocks of the metaverse which are virtual reality and augmented reality.

The concept of the metaverse is experiencing rapid growth around the world. It became a global trend after the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of his parent company to Meta Platforms Inc and announced his intention to devote the future of the company to building the metaverse. This attracted so many investors, entrepreneurs, and tech giants around the world into the industry.

Some of the renowned tech giants that have registered their presence in the metaverse ecosystem include Microsoft and Disney. These companies have before now announced that they are working on their metaverses. Other U.S. and Chinese companies are not left out in the trend as well. Apple and ByteDance are already building up their headset units with a focus on XR technologies and metaverse compatibility.

Tencent’s XR unit will introduce the company into a relatively novel dimension, which is hardware development. The company is most popular for its activities around software development, especially in the area of gaming and social media applications. Venturing into hardware will mark a new venture and represent an expansion for Tencent.

This new foray is perceived from within the company as a passion project. Many see it as a concept that is driven by the passion of the founder and chief executive of Tencent, Pony Ma. A passion that he expressed in the latter part of 2020 when he described it as an “all-real internet”.

The seriousness of this project is reflected by the determination of the company to embark on a significant hiring process while in the middle of a downsizing and cost-cutting exercise, as mentioned above. These control measures have already affected the non-core businesses of Tencent, such as its Penguin Esports unit.

Despite the milestones achieved so far, Tencent remains coy over its metaverse activities. Perhaps, this could be due to the unclear regulatory framework in China at the moment on such emerging technologies. In November 2021, the company made known to analysts that it had a lot of “tech and capability building blocks” to approach the metaverse opportunity but did not go into details.

 

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