ByteDance is now beta testing a metaverse social media app after investing in multiple companies that operate in this space, Tech Plant reported on Thursday.
The social network app, called Party Island, allows users to create avatars, join virtual events like concerts, and chat with other participants. It also has a messaging function within the app, so users can send texts to each other privately and join group chats.
Party Island is now under beta testing and is available in app stores, but only open to a small number of users who have invitation codes.
A portion of ByteDance’s recent investments were devoted to virtual reality and the metaverse. After acquiring VR headset maker Pico in August 2021, ByteDance cut a separate check for another VR tech provider in November and set up a subsidiary called Mai Ta Wo Si under Pico, its name being the Chinese transliteration of the word “metaverse.”
Other tech giants in China are also developing metaverse features and services, each offering its own interpretation of the space. Tencent is leaning on its specialty, video games. Earlier this month, Tencent was in talks to acquire gaming smartphone maker Black Shark and transition the company to make VR hardware. Meanwhile, messaging app QQ, a Tencent product, was updated with the Unreal game engine to provide an avatar design feature.
Tencent has expanded its metaverse-related offerings overseas. The company announced on Tuesday that it will provide features like virtual humans for customer-facing roles, cloud rendering for AR and VR content, embedded AR advertisements, and projected 3D images, according to a Japanese media report.
In November 2021, Baidu’s Xirang metaverse went live, offering a virtual exhibition environment and workplace.
Chinese government entities are actively steering the development of metaverse-adjacent technological capabilities in domestic businesses. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), one of the top regulators of the internet industry, said this week that it plans to cultivate 3,000 startups in the metaverse, blockchain, and AI industries.