ByteDance Launches Non-Metaverse Virtual World

ByteDance Launches Non-Metaverse Virtual World

TikTok owner ByteDance has launched an app in China that lets users explore and interact in a virtual community.

Just don’t call it a metaverse.

As the South China Morning Post reported Friday (Jan. 28), the app — dubbed Paiduidao, or “party island” — has functions that match the accepted definition of a metaverse: a 3D, interactive, virtual world.

However, a representative for Douyin — TikTok’s Chinese cousin — told the news outlet that the app “has nothing to do with the metaverse.”

And for now, it doesn’t appear to be a very universal universe, as Paiduidao is in beta testing for a select group of users who accessed it through an invitation code, according to the report.

The app was developed by ByteDance subsidiary Beijing Shi Qu Wu Xian Technology and launched this week on the iOS and Android app stores in China, the report stated. The app features a logo of two animated characters leaning on each other. Its slogan? “No man is an island.”

Paiduidao represents ByteDance’s latest attempt at challenging Tencent Holdings’ WeChat app, installed on practically every smartphone China, according to the report. Past forays into social media haven’t gone well for the company. It shut down its instant messenger Feiliao in 2021 after two years of operation, and its photo-sharing platform Xintu is no longer in service.

Last year, ByteDance acquired virtual reality startup Pico Interactive, a move many saw as the company making an early venture into the metaverse, the report stated. But the company said at the time the deal was born solely out of its interest in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.

Earlier this month, news emerged that Tencent Holdings was in talks to purchase gaming smartphone maker Black Shark in an apparent effort to launch its own metaverse ambitions.

Read more: Tencent May Acquire Gaming Phone Maker Black Shark

Other companies have worked to develop VR hardware ahead of their metaverse projects. Facebook/Meta is probably the most well-known example of this phenomenon, purchasing Oculus in 2014.