Chinese tech giant Tencent is reportedly shuttering its XR development team, ostensibly putting a hold on its home-grown VR ambitions. That may not mean Tencent is hanging up the XR towel for good though.
As reported by Chinese language publication 36Kr, WeChat developer Tencent is set to promote Meta Quest 2 in mainland China. At the time of this writing, Meta officially supports the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and most countries in Europe.
Using headsets from Meta would provide Tencent with a ready-made hardware platform so it could focus on creating a game library and its own software, but more importantly it could soon counter ByteDance’s Pico Interactive, the VR headset creator most recently known for its Quest 2 competitor, Pico 4.
ByteDance allegedly won a fierce bidding war against Tencent in early 2021 to acquire Pico, which then went on to release Pico 4 to consumers in Europe and Asia. It also looked like Pico was eyeing the US as well, as it opened a headquarters on Meta’s home turf in June 2022, however it was reported late last week that ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, is actually laying off hundreds at Pico Interactive.
This isn’t the first time Meta hardware has found its way into mainland China. Meta (then Facebook) released the 3DOF standalone Oculus Go in 2018 in China thanks to a manufacturing partnership with Xiaomi, branding the headset as the ‘Mi VR Standalone’.
As 36Kr points out, Tencent partnered with Nintendo in 2019 to sell a version of Switch, which provides access to localized games and online services. The report maintains the partnership with Meta will also follow a similar distribution model.