Tencent forms ‘extended reality’ unit to further metaverse development

Tencent has formed an “extended reality” (XR) unit to explore software and hardware products that will bring its metaverse push to life. The Chinese tech company is looking to grow the headcount of this unit to over 300 persons. 

Sources familiar with the plans told Reuters that the unit will be headed by Tencent Games Global’s Chief Technology Officer Li Shen and will be part of the conglomerate’s Interactive Entertainment business group. 

The formation of the unit will see Tencent make one of its first forays into hardware development. The unit is also getting priority treatment from the company as Tencent has been downsizing other company teams amidst regulatory troubles it is facing.

Extended reality is a term that encompasses immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) that many consider to be a key part of the emerging metaverse innovation. The team was first formed earlier this year at Tencent but was kept secret, according to the sources. 

Tencent, the world’s largest video game company, has long had plans to create its metaverse but has kept details scanty. Founder and CEO Pony Ma highlighted back in 2020 the importance of the metaverse, calling it an “all-real internet.” Tencent’s current push is being described as a passion project of Ma’s.

The creation of the unit follows multiple metaverse-related trademark filings Tencent made last year. Tencent was reported to have made around 100 trademark filings.

Tencent’s project to provide a technical framework for a blockchain-backed non-fungible token (NFT) issuance also became the world’s first UN-approved standards initiative for NFTs. Meanwhile, Tencent’s subsidiary WeChat has beat back the teeming NFT community on the instant messaging platform citing risky speculative behavior. 

More players are joining the metaverse race 

Like Tencent, other companies are also allocating massive resources and time to exploring metaverse possibilities. Chief among the Mark Zuckerberg-led company, formerly called Facebook, has completed its rebrand to Meta (NASDAQ: META) to reflect the new vision of Zuckerberg to develop the metaverse. 

Meta has shelled out considerable funds to develop hardware and software for its metaverse push. The company also recently started trying out support for NFTs on its family of social media apps. 

Other established tech giants like Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), as well as social media companies like ByteDance (the owners of TikTok), have also latched on to the metaverse race. These companies are also building XR headsets to explore virtual and augmented worlds. 

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