Booth at a tech conference in China.
  • "Metaverse" has become a buzzword with Facebook reportedly planning a name change to reflect its focus on the concept.
  • Chinese tech giants are also eyeing the metaverse.
  • Tencent, ByteDance, and Alibaba are reportedly taking steps to enter the space.
  • For more stories visit Business Insider.

* This article has been updated below.

Social media giant Facebook has thrust the metaverse into the limelight, reportedly going as far as planning to change its name to reflect its focus on the concept.

The tech buzzword refers to shared virtual spaces that people can access via the internet using VR and AR devices, and it has captured the attention of tech titans including Microsoft.

But it's not just Facebook and Silicon Valley: China's tech giants have also been working on the futuristic concept.

Gaming giant Tencent is set to sharpen focus on developments in the metaverse space with a new gaming studio, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.

A TiMi Studios spokesperson confirmed to Insider the set-up of a new global game development studio, F1 Studio.

The spokesperson said the company has "no intention to discuss any trendy words," but is "dedicated to the exploration of the future form of gaming."

"An open world game, on console and PC, is currently a strategic priority," the spokesperson added.

TikTok owner ByteDance is also seen to be taking steps into the space with the acquisition of VR startup Pico Interactive.

ByteDance told Insider that it's "optimistic about the future of VR."

Ecommerce giant Alibaba, too, has joined the fray by registering several trademarks - including "Ali Metaverse" - related to the buzzword, according to tech media reports last month that cited database information. Alibaba did not immediately respond to an Insider request for comment.

Other Chinese tech firms starting to jostle in the space include short-video-app owner Kuaishou, video-streaming service iQiyi, and electric-carmaker Li Auto, the AFP reported.

It's a race to the forefront of the space, which Bloomberg Intelligence estimates could be worth $800 billion by 2024.

Officially though, China may not be so enthusiastic about the metaverse. Last month, state-owned media outlet Security Times cautioned against investing in the concept, which is still in its infancy.

"Investment is not a virtual game," warned the report. "Blindly investing into such grand and illusionary concepts such as the metaverse may ultimately come back to hurt your pockets."

* This article was updated after publication to include comment from Tencent's TiMi Studios and from TikTok owner ByteDance.

Get the best of our site emailed to you every weekday.

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.