NetEase, China’s second-largest video gaming company, is ramping up efforts to commercialise Yaotai, its immersive virtual conference platform, as competition in metaverse-related products intensifies in the world’s second-largest economy.
Hangzhou-based NetEase plans to introduce a smartphone app of the virtual meeting platform as early as August to help expand its user base, NetEase Yaotai head Liu Bai said in an interview earlier this month.
“Yaotai’s technological foundation is consistent with that of our games, so we can use many of the existing capabilities of NetEase Games,” Liu told the South China Morning Post. “Our main hope is to quickly bring it to market and help solve users’ problems.”
The app’s launch would mark an important update for the platform, which was launched by NetEase in October 2020 and can be accessed via desktop or smartphone through links. While the existing platform’s rendering process is currently handled on the cloud, the app would complete such rendering on users’ own terminals to “significantly lower the cost” of using Yaotai, Liu said.
Whether on a desktop personal computer or smartphone, Yaotai users need to create their own avatars. These can be operated to walk across a virtual venue, look at posters on a wall, talk with other meeting attendees or gather in a large conference room to listen to speakers on stage. The virtual meeting organiser, meanwhile, oversees the event through a back-end system that collects the data of attendees.
Under China’s zero-Covid-19 policy, Liu is confident that domestic demand for Yaotai would remain strong. As such, Liu said he plans to expand his team to around 200 employees in two years from just a few dozen today. He also said Yaotai is working to bring in VR headsets to work with its app.
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