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Metaverse January 19, 2022

Tencent Corporation officializes its aquisition of Black Shark

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In China, the best company to benefit from the metaverse is clearly Tencent. Over 1.26 billion people in China use Tencent’s WeChat application, while Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms dominate worldwide social media.

Tencent also outperforms Meta in terms of mobile gaming, which could be another important metaverse use. Tencent is China’s largest game publisher and a major investor in many of the world’s most well-known gaming studios.

While Tencent has a mobile gaming advantage over Meta. It has yet to establish a virtual reality headset unit, as Meta has done with its Oculus platform.

Tencent

MetaNews.

Tencent is buying Black Shark

The chinese company was reported to be acquiring Black Shark by Chinese media source 36Kr on Monday. Black Shark is a company that develops gaming-oriented mobile phones and accessories. It was founded in 2017 and is sponsored by Chinese phone giant Xiaomi (OTC:XIACY). According to the article, after Tencent buys Black Shark, the company would change its business model and invest in AR/VR devices.

According to sources, Tencent is paying between RMB2.6 and 2.7 billion ($410 and $425 million). Compared to the $2 billion that Oculus spent in 2014, that’s a paltry sum.

Of course, Black Shark does not yet produce a headset, which will necessitate further expenditure. So why did Tencent go with Black Shark, a business that has only developed phones so far, rather than headsets?

Black Shark, according to 36kr, has become somewhat redundant for Xiaomi. In spite of the small number of Chinese residents who purchased gaming phones, Mi and Redmi phones offer enhanced gaming capabilities.

Black Shark, on the other hand, had honed its skills in converting games for high-end mobile experiences, particularly when working with Qualcomm CPUs. Qualcomm’s modems, just as they were in mobile phones, should continue to be critical for virtual reality and metaverse applications. As a result, that kind of technological know-how might be extremely important in the nascent metaverse.

Black Shark could be a missing piece of the metaverse puzzle for Tencent

Although Black Shark’s VR technology isn’t as advanced as Oculus’, the acquisition appears to be a low-cost option for Tencent to enter the augmented- and virtual-reality hardware market. As China’s top video game distributor, Tencent already has extensive software and platform knowledge, as well as significant ownership stakes in a number of prominent game studios. Epic Games and Roblox, the creators of the Unreal Engine and Roblox Studio gaming engines, are among them.

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Metaverse

Metaverse Runner-up in Word of the Year Vote

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The word metaverse

Metaverse claimed second place in the Oxford Word of the Year 2022, losing out by public vote to the eventual winner ‘goblin mode.’

Three hundred thousand people cast their vote in the competition with goblin mode the favorite among the voting public. According to the Oxford University Press goblin mode is a slang term that is “a type of [behavior] which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.”

Goblin mode first emerged as a phrase in 2009 but witnessed a small resurgence in popularity in February and March of 2022. 

Metaverse usage over 2022

The popularity of the word metaverse over time

Metaverse more popular by usage

This year marked the first occasion the Oxford University Press opened ‘Word of the Year’ to a public vote. Goblin mode proved popular in the poll, but second-placed ‘metaverse’ is by far the more popular word by usage.

Oxford University Press gauges word popularity by frequency per million (FPM) tokens, measuring how many instances there are of the keyword per million words.

Goblin mode reached the height of its success in March with a FPM of 0.16. In February the FPM of goblin mode was just below 0.12. Goblin mode remained at or around 0.02 for the remainder of the year.

February was the best performing month for metaverse with a FPM in the 30-34 range, making it between 175-212 times more popular than goblin mode. The FPM of metaverse never fell below 10 for the entire year.

Last year, Oxford University Press selected “vax” as its word of the year. At its peak vax enjoyed a FPM in the 3-3.5 range

The internet knows what is best

In 2016 the British Government asked the public to vote on a new name for a $287 million state-of-the-art polar research ship. The voting public resoundingly voted for the name “Boaty McBoatface.”

Having sought the wisdom of the crowd, the British government went on to christen the ship the RSS Sir David Attenborough.

/MetaNews

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Metaverse

Tuvalu to Create Digital Twin Country Amid Existential Threat

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Tuvalu Island to create digital twin amid existence threat

Tuvalu, an island that is at the risk of being submerged and disappearing from the face of earth due to rising sea levels, will have a second life as a digital twin virtual nation.

The country will now develop a digital twin of itself and make copies of the island’s landmarks.

The authorities believe going into the metaverse as a digital twin will preserve the country’s culture and heritage in perpetuity.

Will make use of Augmented Reality

Tuvalu’s foreign minister Simon Kofe told delegates at the COP27 climate summit his country would become the first nation to be digitised in the metaverse – a virtual world that makes use of  both virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality – (AR) when users immerse themselves via VR headsets.

“Our land, our ocean, our culture are the most precious assets of our people and to keep them safe from harm, no matter what happens in the physical world, we will move them to the cloud,” Kofe said in a video clip standing in the rising waters.

Tuvalu to Create Digital Twin Country Amid Existential Threat

Knee-deep in the sea in a video, Kofe addressed the COP26 last year and helped shine a light on the problem of rising water levels in the small Pacific island nation and the broader climate change problem in the world.

Kofe said his country had to take urgent action on the problem that confronts the island because internationally countries were not “doing enough” to prevent climate change. 

Tuvalu Island to create digital twin amid existence threat

A Tuvalu woman working outdoors under the palm trees.

The small Pacific island will make history by becoming the first country to create a digital twin of itself.

Digital country could be first to be recognized

There are other projects aiming to create digital copies of our shared spaces, including the very ambitious Earth-2 project that aims to create a digital copy of the whole globe.

The city of Seoul and the island nation of Barbados have also previously indicated they would enter the Tuvalu mverse to offer administrative and consular services.

“The idea is to continue to function as a state and beyond that to preserve our culture, our knowledge, and our history in a digital space,” Kofe said ahead of the announcement.

Tuvalu Island to create digital twin amid existence threat

Tuvalu atolls.

Tuvalu, which is a group of nine islands and 12,000 inhabitants halfway between Australia and Hawaii, is a case in point on the dangers climate change and rising sea levels pose to humanity. Almost 40% of the capital’s district is underwater at high tide with the entire country seen becoming submerged by the end of the century.

By creating a digital nation, Kofe says this will allow Tuvalu to still function as a state virtually even after it becomes completely submerged.

This comes amid efforts by the country’s government to ensure that Tuvalu continues to be recognised diplomatically as a state even after its submerged. They also want the country’s maritime boundaries and its underwater resources to be respected even after the islands are submerged.

Seven governments have so far agreed to continue recognising the country when it becomes a digital-only entity, but Simon Kofe admits there would be challenges if Tuvalu becomes submerged, as this would become a new precedence of international law.

/MetaNews.

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Metaverse

EU Metaverse Party Wins Big from Epic Failure

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Header image for EU Metaverse Party

The European Union (EU) blew more than $400,000 on a metaverse party almost nobody came to, now users are lining up to visit the scene of the so-called disaster.

The story first came to light on Tuesday when one attendee at the “gala” event reported that he was one of only six people who showed up. By the end of the week, a host of mainstream media outlets picked up and reported on the news, barely bothering to hide their glee at the scale of the disaster.

Success through failure

The initial launch of the metaverse appears to have been nothing short of catastrophic, but with widespread publicity in the press, the EU metaverse is now, perhaps ironically, finding an audience. 

After initially failing to entice guests, users now wait for over an hour to enter the EU’s metaverse.

On Friday morning (UST time) the virtual event was full to capacity. Users were forced to get in a virtual line just to attend. The website declared:

“Sometimes, even in the metaverse, we run out of space.”

With the line at 29 prospective guests, waiting times for admission exceeded 1 hour. At the time of press, that line had grown to 74 suggesting that wait times were exceeding the 2-hour mark.

That is a remarkable turnaround for an event that only attracted 6 people on its gala day.

At 72 people and counting, the line keeps getting longer

Why does this need a metaverse?

The EU metaverse is the brainchild of the European Commission’s foreign aid department and Global Gateway initiative, tasked with building awareness and raising its profile.

The EU’s Global Gateway initiative is a €300 million ($315M) foreign aid program intended to rival China’s Belt and Road initiative. The commission plans to redistribute €300 million ($315M) foreign aid to global partners, with half of the money earmarked for nations in Africa.

The metaverse uses only a tiny fraction of that budget to raise awareness of the program at home and overseas. With scores of headlines and countless column inches now dedicated to the program, that aim appears met. 

MetaNews attends EU-party

With the EU-metaverse receiving relentless mockery, this MetaNews reporter went to experience the event firsthand. What was it all about, and was it really as bad as the mainstream press seemed to suggest?

The answer to that question is both yes and no

Upon first arrival, my metaverse avatar is dropped outside a building. Entering that building starts a video that is part of the EU’s social awareness campaign. 

Yours truly, attending a rave, only to realize my avatar is wearing earphones.

This is a fairly dry way to begin any so-called “fun” or engaging experience, and so, I move on. Deeper inside the building are some artworks with expository narration. I am reminded of the early days of the internet when people created personal webpages and only later started to think of things to fill them with. 

Anyone can go to and navigate and explore the environment with a browser, a mouse, and a keyboard. That’s not to say that navigation is especially easy. In fact, it’s a bit of a pain trying to guide the avatar around the environment as the site stalls and lags. More than a few times during the visit I find my avatar hopelessly colliding into a wall.

So far, the experience is akin to a 3D Geocities page crossed with a European social justice museum. It’s strange and disconnected and oddly fascinating.

This rave makes no sense

Traveling outside the building leads to the rave arena. This is one of the strangest locations in the environment. There is a DJ booth and a dancefloor consisting of multiple interwoven levels. Standing over the location is a giant asexual red statue. The statue is posed as a shot-putter, but in place of the shot, the figure cradles a giant coronavirus in its hand. 

Melody-free industrial beats blasts out of my speakers. A series of screens above the DJ booth flash disconnected images and words such as “education,” “digitalisation,” and “public health.”

I imagine that just like a real rave, this experience may make more sense with the aid of copious amounts of alcohol or stronger stimulants. On this particular morning I am sober and completely baffled. 

The one thing nobody minds sharing – a giant over-sized trash bag in the metaverse

Traveling deeper into the metaverse

Exploring the beach I discover that my avatar can take off and fly around the site like meta-Superman. On my return, I accidentally miss the pier and discover I can walk on water like meta-Jesus.

After some further exploration, I discover a treasure hunt, a giant bag of trash, powers of teleportation, and a secret beach location hidden within a giant rock. Before I leave I decide to take a few selfies with the built-in selfie camera so I can say “I was there.” 

Was the experience good? Not overly, but it would be uncharitable to say the experience didn’t contain at least a few bright spots. Did I learn more about the EU’s Global Gateway initiative? Yes, but only because I went on to research it later.

Verdict: The EU Global Gateway isn’t the complete disaster mainstream media has painted it out to be, but neither is it worthy of its one-hour waiting time.

/MetaNews.

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