CBN Friday Special丨Metaverse craze: Fantasy or future?

2022年01月21日 19:16   21世纪经济报道 21财经APP   李莹亮,见习记者张然
三分钟音频,中英文带你速览中国经济头条。

S: Hi everyone. Welcome to CBN Friday Special, I’m Stephanie LI.

R: And I’m ZHANG Ran. Today’s program will dive into a topic that has drawn the eyes of the world since last year: the Metaverse.

S: Let’s start with the latest. Microsoft announced this week that it was acquiring Activision Blizzard, the maker of video games such as Call of Duty and Candy Crush, in a deal valued at $68.7 billion. 

The acquisition, Microsoft’s largest ever, would catapult the company into a leading spot in the video game industry and make it the world’s third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind Tencent and Sony.

R: Microsoft, the owner of Xbox, has been investing in games for years. But this time, it was the framing of the acquisition that caught the eyes. The company said in a press release on Tuesday that buying the game maker “will provide building blocks for the Metaverse.

So, first of all, what is the Metaverse, anyway?

S: Well, Metaverse is widely defined as an alternative digital reality where people work, play and socialise. It is the convergence of two popular ideas: virtual reality (VR) and a digital second life.

In a Metaverse era, our virtual lives play as important a role as our physical realities. In theory, we would spend lots of time interacting with our friends in virtual space, which means we would spend money there, too, to buy things for our digital avatars.

R: To make it closer to our lives, think of examples like video games, social media, the trending non-fungible token (NFT), virtual-reality headset, and virtual humans.

China Media Group has recently unveiled an artificial intelligence (AI) sign language virtual anchor, which will be used throughout the upcoming Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to assist with the broadcast of events in sign language. Well-known singer Teresa Teng, who passed away in 1995, was part of a virtual human performance at a recent New Year gala show on TV.

S: The term “Metaverse” is everywhere now. Global consulting company PwC has highlighted the Metaverse as the next “Wild West” and painted a rosy outlook for the Metaverse-related economy, which will grow to $1.5 trillion in 2030, mainly driven by AR and VR technologies.

And the race between tech giants has already started. Microsoft’s move came after Facebook’s founder Mark Suckerberg renamed the social networking company to Meta. And media report that Google has worked on Metaverse-related technology for years, while Apple has its own related devices in the works.

R: Internet giants in China are also scrambling to snag a spot in the Metaverse. The country's three online behemoths “BAT” — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, which have reaped large profits from the development of internet over the past decades, have got a head start towards the Metaverse.

For example, Baidu launched the country’s first Metaverse-related app called Xirang in December, 2021, by holding its annual flagship developers’ conference, also China’s first Metaverse conference, via its Metaverse platform.

S:  But just as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, gaming “will play a key role in the development of Metaverse platforms.” Tencent, which is already the world’s largest video gaming firm by revenue, aims to pivot to the Metaverse as it is ramping up efforts to invest in other gaming firms, and even gaming hardware firms. The tech giant owns 40 percent of US gaming firm Epic Games, which is building its own Metaverse platform, and acquired Black Shark, which makes gaming-oriented phones and accessories.

R: Alibaba took a step further by registering several trademarks, including "Ali Metaverse.” And media reported that Alibaba has invested 10 million yuan in a prospective company related with Metaverse.

Gaming giant NetEase also filed dozens of Metaverse trademark applications. The company signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Sanya municipal government in Hainan province last December. As a part of the deal, the internet giant will set up its Hainan headquarters and build a Metaverse industrial base project in the southern island province.

S: While many Chinese big techs and start-ups have also said they are keen on developing Metaverse products and services, state news outlets have cautioned against what they see as speculative behaviour.

The state-run Economic Daily warned against speculative trading in Metaverse concept stocks, sending share prices tumbling before going up again. In a commentary, the paper said that retail traders should avoid hastily putting money into an "immature" concept like the Metaverse, since it is a project that requires long-term investment and development. And People's Daily said last month that people who engage in the sales of virtual properties risk "getting burned”.

R: Right. Some experts have expressed concerns over a premature hype about the Metaverse, saying that “it’s important for investors to tell the difference between genuine trends and beautiful ‘bubbles’,” while others said that the concerns should not be a roadblock for exploring related opportunities in this global race.

S: Well, I choose to sit on the fence for the time being. The Metaverse, like every other novelty, needs to be treated with caution and objection, especially when you decide to go all-in with it.

Anyway, Ran, could you fill us in with today’s stock market before we end?

R: Absolutely. Chinese stocks followed three straight down days dragged by firms that conduct nucleic acid testings. On Friday, the Shanghai Composite fell 0.91 percent and the Shenzhen Component lost 1.19 percent. However, the Hang Seng Index edged up 0.05 percent while the tech stocks declined.  

2021年被称为“元宇宙”元年。一时间,似乎全世界都在飞向“元宇宙”,各大领域纷纷“入坑”。进入2022年,“元宇宙”的热度有增无减,一场“从科幻到现实”的元宇宙变革来势汹汹,人类要进入“元宇宙时代”了吗?

北京时间1月18日,微软公司宣布,计划以每股95美元的现金收购游戏开发和互动娱乐内容发行商动视暴雪,交易总金额约为687亿美元。

完成这笔收购之后,微软将和索尼及腾讯一道成为全球游戏行业三巨头。而这次收购不仅是微软在游戏领域的加码竞争,也是公司在“元宇宙”风口的最新布局。

微软在一份声明中称,此次收购将加速微软在移动(手机)、个人电脑、游戏机和云领域的游戏业务增长,并将为“元宇宙”业务提供基石。

元宇宙是整合多种新技术而产生的新型虚实相融的互联网应用和社会形态。它将虚拟世界与现实世界在经济系统、社交系统、身份系统上密切融合,并且允许每个用户进行内容生产和编辑。

未来实体化的“元宇宙”里,人们可随时随地切换身份,自由穿梭于现实世界和虚拟世界,在“元宇宙”中学习、工作、交友、购物、旅游等。通过沉浸式体验,让虚拟世界进一步接近并融入现实世界。在这个虚拟世界里,将有自我不断发展的内容和经济系统,并始终保持安全稳定运行,满足个体的社会需求。

元宇宙相关的产品已越来越普遍,例如游戏、社交媒体、NFT、VR头戴设备等。最近,随着AI手语主播亮相冬奥解说,已故著名歌星“邓丽君”在台上与真人合唱,作为元宇宙场景入口与连接纽带的虚拟数字人,也带动了新的潮流。普华永道预测,到2030年元宇宙的市场规模将达到1.5万亿美元。

全球各大科技公司在“元宇宙”赛道上的竞争早已开始。早在去年,Facebook创始人扎克伯格就宣布,将公司名称改为“Meta”;据媒体报道,Google、苹果等公司也早已布局“元宇宙”市场。

在国内,互联网巨头们也纷纷行动。2021年12月,百度宣布2021 AI开发者大会将在自己所开发的元宇宙产品“希壤”中举办。2021年10月,阿里巴巴云栖大会上,阿里巴巴达摩院XR实验室负责人谭平宣布阿里巴巴达摩院成立XR实验室,并对元宇宙的概念进行了解读。而网易则与三亚市政府签署战略合作协议,将在三亚设立网易海南总部,建设网易元宇宙产业基地项目。

正如微软公司董事长兼CEO萨蒂亚·纳德拉所说:“游戏是当今所有平台上最具活力和最令人兴奋的娱乐类别,将在’元宇宙’平台的发展中发挥关键作用。”此前有消息称,腾讯作为游戏行业巨头,将斥资27亿收购小米集团旗下黑鲨科技,对硬件进行布局。收购后,黑鲨科技将放弃原有的手机业务,将业务核心转向VR/AR技术。

专家表示,现阶段,元宇宙仍是一个不断演变、不断发展的概念,不同参与者也会不断丰富它的含义,需要警惕资本绑架、伦理风险、立法监管空白等问题。

节目的最后,我们来看一下今天股市收盘情况。周五A股集体收跌,三大指数连续下跌三个交易日,沪指收跌0.91%,深成指跌1.19%。新冠检测等抗疫概念股大幅回调。港股恒生指数微升0.05%,科技指数跌0.44%。  

Executive Editor: Sonia YU

Editor: LI Yanxia

Host: Stephanie LI, ZHANG Ran

Writer: Stephanie LI, ZHANG Ran

Producer: XIANG Xiufang

Sound Editor: ZHANG Ran, Andy YUAN

Graphic Designer: ZHENG Wenjing, LIAO Wanni

Co-produced by 21st Century Business Herald Dept. of Overseas News & SFC Audio/Video Dept.

Presented by SFC

编委:  于晓娜

策划、编辑:李艳霞 

播音:李莹亮、张然

撰稿:李莹亮、张然

监制:向秀芳 

音频制作:张然、袁思杰 

设计:郑文静、廖苑妮

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