On February 17, Baidu XuperChain announced that it will connect multiple metaverse platforms through its DApp, which is a decentralized application that simultaneously runs on multiple platforms within a network and can store digital assets such as digital collectibles and membership points.
The platforms will connect Baidu’s own metaverse space Xirang, Baidu’s AI virtual assistant product “Xiaodu at home,” AI company Seengene’s metaverse “Eonivrs,” metaverse space “Moverse,” Deseworld’s metaverse platform “DESE,” and video-streaming app iQiyi.
To commemorate the occasion, Baidu issued a digital collectible series entitled “Tai Chu (太初)”, which mimics the Taoist diagram of the universe and features the letter “X” to mark the XuperChain. “Tai Chu” refers to the start of the universe in Taoism beliefs, so the collectible series symbolizes that DApp is creating a brand new metaverse ecosystem.
The series contains two separate collectibles — “Qian (乾)” and “Kun (坤)” — that combine to form the “Tai Chu” digital badge. In Chinese, the word “Qian Kun” also refers to the universe.
Baidu released 150,000 pieces each of “Qian” and “Kun” in the form of blind boxes that can give buyers anywhere from one to ten chances to acquire the pieces in a lottery system. Users who acquire the “Tai Chu” badge can enjoy privileges in DApp’s metaverse, such as a one-year “Moverse” membership.
To reward users who participate early in the offering, DESE will enable the top 20 users who forge the most “Taichu” badges to obtain their own personal virtual exhibition rooms.
Notably, Baidu will release several more rounds of the “Tai Chu” collectible series if DApp were to connect even more metaverse platforms. The upcoming targets are set up at 10, 100, and 1,000 platforms. Although DApp is still a long way from reaching its ultimate goal, the target system does reveal Baidu’s ambition to expand its metaverse ecosystem much more broadly.
Baidu’s DApp debut is not just an attempt for the tech giant to expand its market share in China’s metaverse sector, important as that might be.
Rather, Baidu is integrating many emerging metaverse applications into its ecosystem. For example, DESE specializes in AI-generated content (AIGC) and virtual events such as exhibitions, meetings, and training.
“Eonivrs” focuses on recreating digital spaces for city blocks, commerce zones, and sightseeing areas, while “Moverse” is a B2B platform that concentrates on building virtual spaces for government and enterprise clients.
Although Baidu’s DApp primarily only allows users to showcase their digital collectibles across the platforms at the moment, it could encompass a wide area of metaverse applications for both the Chinese public and private sectors in the future. This will allow Baidu to assert its technological leadership in China’s metaverse application industry.
The adaptation of DApp across metaverse platforms could also revolutionize the so-called “Chinaverse.” Up to now, China’s major metaverse spaces were more akin to disconnected virtual silos. This raises the costs for metaverse users as they have to “pick and choose” which platform to move into even though the platform might not have fully rolled out all of its potential functionality.
With Baidu’s DApp, the platforms can achieve interoperability in terms of displaying and using digital assets such as digital collectibles. For instance, users who purchase collectibles of various IPs on iQiyi will be able to showcase their collections to other users and enjoy any privileges granted by the collectibles on all platforms that use Baidu’s DApp.
In other words, the “Chinaverse” will be closer to becoming an actual universe instead of disparate digital spaces developed by a range of tech companies. This could encourage more first-time users to experience the metaverse through Baidu’s ecosystem. In addition, the more platforms that are connected by Baidu’s DApp, the more attractive the ecosystem will be for brands that wish to enter the metaverse and engage with digitally savvy consumers.
However, DApp is still in its infancy and will need to introduce more features to achieve the desired status as the go-to metaverse option in China.
Undoubtedly, Baidu will be met with intense competition from China’s other tech giants. It is entirely plausible that the likes of Tencent and Alibaba will follow suit and seek to connect with other metaverse platforms by leveraging their huge influence in social media and e-commerce.
This will result in the “Chinaverse” being composed of a handful of large metaverse universes controlled by the leading, competing tech giants. It might take years, if not a decade or so, for such a scenario to come true, but Baidu has clearly taken its first step in what will undoubtedly be a marathon rather than a sprint.