Think Tank Warns Virtual Idol Investors of Metaverse-Related Risks

Experts worry absence of regulatory policies and rush to invest in a hyped-up concept could result in frenzy.

A Chinese think tank has warned virtual idol companies jumping on the metaverse trend to expand their investment and influence from risks amid an absence of relevant policies.

The People’s Daily Online Public Opinion Data Center, part of the state-run media outlet, said companies should be aware of risks, including information bubbles, capital manipulation, monopoly tension, and industrial ‘involution’ that may exist in the metaverse. Popularity in the metaverse, a digital concept using various forms of virtual and augmented realities to mirror social interactions, soared after social platform Facebook changed its name to Meta in October.

“The country has no clear guiding documents or guiding concepts about the ‘metaverse,’” the think tank said Monday. “In the digital utopian ideology that everything can be ‘metaverse,’ virtual idol companies, especially those that are new to the game, urgently need rational guidance from the government.”

Virtual singers and video streamers have been a popular Chinese subculture over the years, with the value of the virtual idol market reaching 3.46 billion yuan ($540 million) in 2020, up 70.3% from 2019, according to consultancy iiMedia research. With the hype surrounding the metaverse, its market value is expected to reach nearly 107.49 billion yuan in 2021.

However, developing virtual idols is pricey — 3D renderings could cost millions of yuan, with little prospect of an immediate return on investment. As of August, of the 3,472 virtual video streamers with relatively high followers on video-streaming platform Bilibili, 1,827 made no monthly income, according to domestic media. Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.