The Metaverse booth at a tech fair in China.
Booth at a tech conference in China.
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  • "Metaverse" has become a buzzword with Facebook reportedly planning a name change to reflect its focus on the concept.
  • Chinese tech giants are also eyeing the metaverse.
  • Tencent, ByteDance, and Alibaba are reportedly taking steps to enter the space.

Social media giant Facebook has thrust the metaverse into the limelight, reportedly going as far as planning to change its name to reflect its focus on the concept.

The tech buzzword refers to shared virtual spaces that people can access via the internet using VR and AR devices, and it has captured the attention of tech titans including Microsoft.

But it's not just Facebook and Silicon Valley: China's tech giants have also been working on the futuristic concept.

Gaming giant Tencent is set to sharpen focus on developments in the metaverse space with a new gaming studio, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday. The new studio is hiring for dozens of positions, the Hong Kong newspaper reported.

Tencent did not immediately respond to an Insider request for comment, but an unnamed employee told the SCMP that the new studio is about the metaverse.

TikTok owner ByteDance is also seen to be taking steps into the space with the acquisition of VR startup Pico Interactive. ByteDance confirmed the deal to CNBC, with a spokesperson saying saying it was "optimistic about the future of VR."

Ecommerce giant Alibaba, too, has joined the fray by registering several trademarks - including "Ali Metaverse" - related to the buzzword, according to tech media reports last month that cited database information. Alibaba did not immediately respond to an Insider request for comment.

Other Chinese tech firms starting to jostle in the space include short-video-app owner Kuaishou, video-streaming service iQiyi, and electric-carmaker Li Auto, the AFP reported.

It's a race to the forefront of the space, which Bloomberg Intelligence estimates could be worth $800 billion by 2024.

Officially though, China may not be so enthusiastic about the metaverse. Last month, state-owned media outlet Security Times cautioned against investing in the concept, which is still in its infancy.

"Investment is not a virtual game," warned the report. "Blindly investing into such grand and illusionary concepts such as the metaverse may ultimately come back to hurt your pockets."

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