Chinese platforms tempt users with metaverse-like World Cup experience

Chinese media platforms are offering VR-based World Cup live streams as the Chinese government aspires to achieve major milestones in VR and metaverse development.

Football in Qatar

Chinese online platforms are taking the opportunity to attract users with a more immersive version of World Cup tournaments. Out of six mainland channels that managed to secure the rights to broadcast matches, two stand out with their offer of a "metaverse-like" experience: China Mobile-owned Migu and Douyin (a Chinese name for TikTok).

As soon as in July, Migu's chief content officer talked about the company's ambitions to develop the world's first virtual space for watching the World Cup games based on 5G and VR technologies. On its official Sina Weibo (microblogging service) account, the platform announced plans to host a "Metaverse World Cup Music Festival." Douyin, too, advertises its World Cup live streams on its weibo channel. The platform's parent company, ByteDance, is also an owner of Pico, a VR headset producer, which encourages users to watch tournament broadcasts via VR goggles for a more immersive experience.

Chinese media platforms are leveraging FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 not only to promote their products and services but also to familiarize users with the metaverse concept and the "allures" of virtual reality. Such an approach is aligned with the Chinese government's objectives. At the beginning of November, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, along with four other governmental agencies, announced a plan spanning the next five years to speed up the development of the VR sector.

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China aspires to achieve major technological milestones in key metaverse areas, especially those related to three-dimensionality, and harness VR's potential for economic growth. The financial goal is to scale the VR industry's revenue to over 350 billion yuan ($48.1 billion) in 2026.

"Through the application of various scenarios in the metaverse of this World Cup, China can also test the overall quality of the industry chain in the field of virtual reality technology, and thus gain an early foothold in the sector," said Chen Jia, a VR industry observer, in a commentary for the Chinese state-run media outlet Global Times.