QQ Adds Unreal: Tencent, Epic want to own the Metaverse

Facebook wants to own the Metaverse, thinking that the Internet will migrate to Meta. Apple & Microsoft are asserting claims. Tencent and the Chinese now are jumping in, bigtime.

Tencent QQ is offering 560 million monthly users Super QQ Show. a 3D social and gaming space. It’s supported by a version of Epic Games Unreal Engine, a primary creation tool for games that also supports a metaverse environment.

The principal author of Unreal, Tim Sweeney, has crafted a graphics engine powerful enough for the latest Matrix film. Indulge yourself for a few minutes. Skip to 2:30 in this video and let ‘er run.

Tencent owns 40% of Epic although it rarely plays an active role.

Many billions are being spent on the Metaverse so I think it will be a major factor. I don’t think it will “replace” the Internet for everything, but power in the metaverse will matter.

Keeping it open and interoperable is going to be tough. James Li of Orange/FT

“All the technologies in the metaverse value chain must work together to provide an excellent user experience,” explains James Li. “Interoperability between technologies and stakeholders is essential for making the metaverse a reality and for creating an open and seamless space.” That is to say, an alternate universe in the true sense of the word, not just a collection of discrete 3D communities that are open only to the customers of the companies that own them.

An Internet pioneer warns that corporate interests could prevent that, pointing to the failure to connect instant messenger services.

China has probably the best Internet. 400 million homes are connected to fiber. Over 400 million have 5G. One hell of an Edge network is rapidly building.

Never underestimate the technical strength of China

Tencent quietly updates QQ with Unreal game engine in possible metaverse move

New feature called Super QQ Show launches on QQ allowing users to socialise and interact as they would in games like Animal CrossingAnalysts say QQ engine update could be a major move by Tencent into metaverse-related projects

Josh Ye

Josh Ye+ FOLLOW

Published: 8:30am, 27 Jan, 2022Why you can trust SCMP

A future made by all of us

The metaverse will be a collective project that goes beyond a single company. It will be created by people all over the world, and open to everyone.

The update coincided with Tencent’s launch of a new feature on the app called Super QQ Show, which is a 3D interactive space where users can socialise, watch shows and play games. As such, analysts say the move marks Tencent’s latest effort to build its presence in the metaverse.

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The metaverse, already one of 2022’s hot tech trends, typically refers to a shared, immersive 3D virtual space where people can interact and trade their assets, seen by many as the next iteration of the internet.ADVERTISING

The move also signals Tencent’s determination to revitalise QQ, its second-most popular messaging platform after WeChat with 590 million monthly active users, after it lost relevance amid a broad move by Chinese netizens to short video and new platforms in recent years.

Tencent declined to comment on the new update and Super QQ Show.SATURDAYInside China Tech NewsletterBy submitting, you consent to receiving marketing emails from SCMP. If you don’t want these, tick hereBy registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

The metaverse is gaining popularity in China. Although the country has yet to roll out a nationwide strategy in relation to the concept, like South Korea has, some major city authorities have asked companies to explore the idea. For example, Shanghai’s next five-year plan lists the metaverse as one of four frontiers for exploration.

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The Super QQ Show is available to a selected group of users for trials. Screenshots and video footage of the feature posted by Tencent employees, shows users dressing up their 3D avatars, decorating their homes and visiting one another, much like Nintendo’s popular video game series Animal Crossing.

Unreal Engine is used by blockbuster games such as Bioshock and Mass Effect, and Tencent owns a 40 per cent stake in its US developer Epic Games, which runs the engine. Epic Games was one of the first international tech giants to make development of the metaverse its central mission last year. Epic’s signature game Fortnite is often cited as one of the leading metaverse projects in the market.

In a question-and-answer session on Zhihu, China’s equivalent to Quora, Unreal Engine’s official account praised Tencent for incorporating the engine within QQ.

“First and foremost, we have to commend the QQ team for their technical chop,” Unreal Engine stated. “The Unreal Engine 4, inside its IOS app, is likely a modified version assembled by its in-house team.”

Cui Chenyu, a senior research analyst for games at London-based consultancy Omdia, said, “Tencent has no established metaverse project in particular yet while its major competitors are exploring the sector aggressively. This virtual and vivid QQ update might become the first metaverse product for Tencent.”

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Given that Tencent has had to heavily modify the Unreal Engine to fit within QQ, Cui added that this may signal Tencent is working to improve its own capability to develop game engines, as another step towards the metaverse.

Tencent’s interest in bringing the metaverse to QQ can be traced back to last October when it registered a series of metaverse-related trademarks including one called “QQ metaverse”.

In its earnings call with analysts last November, Tencent executives said the company has an abundance of technologies to develop the metaverse.

Tencent’s President Martin Lau said it could potentially approach the metaverse through a range of businesses, citing video game development and social networking as major strengths. But the 48-year-old executive also said Beijing would likely regulate the metaverse in a different way to the rest of the world.

In October, the South China Morning Post reported that Tencent’s marquee gaming studio TiMi Studios was also launching a new studio, F1, to develop metaverse-like projects.

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