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Market Cap £47.41bn
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Tencent says Beijing likely to support metaverse - as long as it obeys China rules

Thu 11th November, 2021 5:50am
By Brenda Goh
    SHANGHAI, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Chinese social media giant
Tencent Holdings  0700.HK  expects Beijing to allow 'metaverse'
virtual environment services, now the talk of Silicon Valley, to
operate in China - provided they fall in line with Chinese
rules. 
    In some of its first public comments on the metaverse,
Tencent, China's biggest company by market value, welcomed the
potential for gaming business opportunities in a post-earnings
call on Wednesday, but acknowledged China's version of the
metaverse would need to be different to the rest of the world's.
    "There's a lot of technologies that's related to the
development of games as well as for the metaverse," Tencent
president Martin Lau told analysts on a call peppered with
questions about the metaverse.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2S10L4
    Investors have pored over the prospects for the burgeoning
virtual reality world ever since Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of
Facebook  FB.O , which recently changed its name to Meta
Platforms Inc, announced that he would devote the future of his
company on building a metaverse.
    Microsoft  MSFT.O  and Disney  DIS.N  have also said they
are also working on their own metaverses.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2S200T
    "The Chinese government will be in support of the
development of such technologies as long as the user experience
is actually provided under the regulatory framework," said
Tencent's Lau.
    Amid the metaverse fervour, questions have been raised among
tech investors about how it might evolve in China, where the
internet is tightly censored and authorities have waged a
wide-raging crackdown against its once free-wheeling giants,
including Tencent since last year.
    Regulators have banned all crypto transactions, tightened
oversight of the gaming industry and also warned against "blind"
investment in metaverse-linked stocks.  urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL1N2QB05G
    Lau said although there would be likely different sets of
rules concerning the metaverse for China and the world, this was
"not fundamentally averse to the development of metaverse".
    Tencent, the world's largest online gaming firm by revenue,
is by far leading the charge in China on the concept of virtual
worlds, which has also attracted the interest of rivals such as
NetEase  NTES.O  and TikTok owner ByteDance, according to data
firm NewZoo.
    Lau said there were "multiple pathways" to the metaverse
opportunity, such as through interactive games or a social
network serving as a 'gamefield'.
    "We have a lot of tech and capability building blocks that
will allow us to approach the metaverse opportunity," he said.
    Tencent owns a 40% stake in Epic Games and has a joint
venture with Roblox Corp  RBLX.N , both of which are working on
their own metaverses.
    The company, whose businesses also include China's dominant
social networking and messaging app WeChat, has also registered
over 20 metaverse-related trademarks for its apps in China and
is working on more immersive, multi-player games. 

 (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Miyoung Kim and Kenneth
Maxwell)
 ((brenda.goh@thomsonreuters.com; +86 (0) 21 2083 0088; Reuters
Messaging: brenda.goh.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))
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