Tencent to acquire gaming device maker Black Shark to help it build the Metaverse (report)

By January 11, 2022Metaverse
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The race is on to build the Metaverse.

Facebook parent company Meta revealed in 2021 that it plans on pumping $50 million into a metaverse project, and that it wants to hire for a vast workforce within the European Union (EU) over the next five years to do so.

However, another tech and social media giant could be in the running to develop the definitive metaverse.

China-based Tencent Holdings, majority-owner of Tencent Music Entertainment, and owner of WeChat and QQ Messenger, is reportedly planning to acquire Chinese gaming phone company Black Shark, a move which could help Tencent build its own metaverse.

That’s according to a report from news outlet 36Kr, which cites ‘multiple’ sources as saying that Tencent plans on buying the firm, and that Black Shark’s focus, which is currently on gaming-centric phones and hardware accessories, will change to building virtual reality hardware.

As reported by Gizmo China, technology giant Xiaomi is currently the majority shareholder in Black Shark.

Facebook parent company Meta, which defines the ‘metaverse’ as a “new phase of interconnected virtual experiences using technologies like virtual and augmented reality”, already owns of VR game Horizon Worlds, and one of the world’s most popular VR tech brands, Oculus.

As noted by Bloomberg in November, making a play for the metaverse is a logical step for Tencent.

Firstly, it already owns a stake in one of the biggest players in the virtual worlds landscape: video game company Epic Games, maker of Fortnite.

Tencent Holdings invested $330 million in Epic Games in 2012 (around five years before Fortnite was released) in return for a 40% stake in Epic.

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The company also entered into a strategic partnership with Roblox in May 2019, in which Tencent holds a 49% stake.

Plus, Tencent filed for two Metaverse related trademarks in September 2021.

The topic of Tencent’s positioning in the metaverse also came up during the company’s Q3 earnings call in November, with Tencent President Martin Lau noting that the concept is “very exciting, but a little bit vague”.

“In terms of our capabilities and our positioning, we felt we actually have a lot of the technology and know-how building blocks for us to explore and develop for the Metaverse opportunity.”

Martin Lau, Tencent, speaking in November 2021

He added however that, “in terms of our capabilities and our positioning, we felt we actually have a lot of the technology and know-how building blocks for us to explore and develop for the Metaverse opportunity”.

He continued: “For example, we have a lot of gaming experiences. We also have very strong social networking experience. In addition to that, in terms of technology building blocks, we have engine capability, we have AI capability, we have the capability to build large server architecture that can serve a huge number of concurrent users.

“We’re very experienced in managing digital content economies as well as real life digital assets. So, all in all, we felt that we have a lot of tech and capability building blocks that will allow us to approach the Metaverse opportunities through the multiple pathways we talked about.”

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