Alibaba has rolled out what it’s calling a “metaverse” ahead of China’s Singles Day, according to RADII, a China youth culture publication founded by a former vice president of Alibaba.
“Metaverse Art Exhibition,” a virtual space in which people can interact, is Alibaba’s way of trying to stay up to date with the technological updates in China, according to the report. Earlier in the year, Alibaba released images of its “digital employee,” AYAYI, which now appears to have been developed to spur the company’s metaverse. AYAYI will welcome guests to the Alibaba metaverse and be a kind of guide.
Visitors to the Alibaba metaverse will be able to explore nonfungible token (NFT) artworks by brands like Burberry, Alienware and more, the report stated. And while some artwork has more than one print, each one has an identification number unique to the buyer, fully protected.
Metaverse apps can offer encrypted assets, and when people own a piece of art in the metaverse, it can be secured with blockchain so that one can protect their copyright, according to the report.
The idea has spurred some skepticism from Chinese netizens, alongside similar news from Facebook as it debuts its own metaverse. Commentators on Zhihu, the Chinese version of a social question-and-answer website Quora, have been split; the most up-voted answer has been that the metaverse will create a world allowing people to live in peace and consume fewer resources, the report stated.
Facebook has been leaning into metaverse technology as of late, including rebranding its corporate name as Meta.
Facebook’s idea is to align itself more directly with its own goals to launch a metaverse amid the controversies that have surrounded the company for the last few years involving whistleblower fallout and antitrust concerns from various countries.