China’s tech trends in 2023 range from the resurgence of the gaming industry to more creative live streaming. Calling the past year difficult for China is an understatement, given the constant shutdowns of cities due to the pandemic, the cancellation or rescheduling of events, and the stagnation of the Chinese labor market.
However, technology development in the country has not slowed down; sitting at home, the Chinese depended on the Internet more than ever. Today, restrictions in the country associated with the pandemic have finally eased.
Consider the main technology trends of 2023 in China:
More creative live broadcasts – live streaming
Due to ongoing lockdowns throughout 2022, live streaming in China remains the favored form of entertainment or means of purchasing goods. Chinese live streamers are doing well, from the sudden fame of Taiwanese singer and personal trainer Liu Chenghong, aka Will Liu, to the return of lipstick king Li Jiaqi.
This year, live streaming will have to evolve with new market trends. Since the metaverse was trending, merchants devised creative ways to use AI avatars. Many large and small Chinese brands have tried using AI-generated avatars instead of real people for live events. The reasons are apparent – AIs are cheaper and can “work” 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without resting or complaining.
Is AI taking over the world?
Specific AI topics have been trending on Chinese social media this winter. Art AI generators are one of them. Chinese Z-Generation netizens who enjoy using such platforms share their fun, artistic trials, and failures on Chinese social networks such as Xiaohongshu.
Another hot topic is an AI system for chats called Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer or ChatGPT. Hoping to find shortcuts to homework, some high school students tried this system but ended up with funny answers.
However, the rapid development of artificial intelligence has also raised concerns about whether it will completely absorb human jobs. The viral art generator and chatbot have all been criticized for hurting the creative industries.
The thought of robots replacing them can be daunting. However, in the coming years, we will surely see more applications of AI in our daily lives. Many of the world’s media call AI the #1 technology trend in 2023. The ethical issues that arise in connection with the development of AI will always remain a hot topic.
More virtual reality and interest in the metaverse
It’s impossible to talk about technology in 2022 without mentioning the metaverse. The word ranks second on Oxford’s Word of the Year list. In 2023, you will likely see even more of the metaverse in your daily life as this trend seems to be gaining momentum in China.
This terminology was first introduced in China in 2021 and soon gained popularity among the tech community. With the support of the central and local government, the industry experienced a boom this year, and it will continue to develop with constant investment.
China appears to have decided to take the lead in developing the metaverse. The electronics company HTC Corporation president, expressed his confidence that China will be the first country in the world to establish a nationwide metaverse. More than 15 cities in the country have developed 29 policies supporting the industry’s growth.
College students can even major in metaverse studies at Nanjing University in East China. A plan developed at a recent metaverse technology conference showed that the industry would generate 200 billion yuan (about $28 billion) in revenue shortly.
The metaverse’s success in China mainly depends on VR technology, which a few tech giants dominate. In 2021, TikTok owner Bytedance acquired Beijing-based VR company Pico and launched a new line of headsets called Pico 4 to the market. Pico is partnering with Chinese influencers and celebrities to market its powerful gaming and entertainment content. What to expect in 2023: Pico plans to release its metaverse, Project Pico Worlds, which will work with the brand’s headsets.
“More and more companies will claim to be doing metaverse technology,” Eric Liu, chief technology officer of Chinese metaverse company DIGITWIN Technologies, said in an interview.
According to Eric Liu, the metaverse will manifest itself in the video game industry and everyday life. He believes the real change will come when Apple releases its version of AR glasses. “We all know Apple AR glasses are coming soon,” Liu added. “My friends at Apple all say the energy is the same as the first time the iPhone was going to come out.”
“I can’t wait for the day when I wake up, and instead of looking at my phone, I just put on my glasses so I can go about my business but still experience and access all this information without looking at my phone,” Liu said optimistically.
Revival of the gaming industry
If anyone struggled in 2022, it will be the gaming industry staff. Industry revenue fell for three consecutive quarters, gaming giant Blizzard ended its services in China, and Chinese game company Lilith disbanded its entire team for the mobile fantasy game Art of Conquest 2. Not only were gaming licenses suspended, the government also made efforts to restrict game time for all minors in the country.
However, as restrictions are eased due to the pandemic in China, gamers will have more entertainment options. After all, China is still the primary home of the world’s largest esports market and boasts a growing female audience.
Despite a tough year, 2022 still brought us the billionth mobile game Sheep-A-Sheep or Yang Le Ge Yang (羊了个羊). But will the games industry be able to get out of the current downturn and succeed overseas with Honor of Kings and Genshin Impact?
NFTs will continue to be in demand in China.
At the end of September 2021, the Chinese government officially banned all cryptocurrency transactions in the country. However, NFT products, or “digital collectibles” (数字藏品) as they are known in China, exist in a gray area without clear and comprehensive regulation.
Therefore, tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent introduced their own NFT platforms in 2021, and in early 2022, there was a boom in digital tokens. Brands have seized the opportunity to release viral digital collections; for example, Li-Ning’s collaboration with Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).
However, in 2022, China’s NFT market was hit hard. Tencent even shut down its Huanhe platform just a year after its launch. Despite the temporary setback, the market is still predicted to rise. According to a report by iResearch, a market research and consulting firm in China, the country’s digital collections market reached about 280 million yuan (about $40 million) in 2021 and could reach 28 billion yuan (about $4 billion) in 2026.
This year, even more brands may combine NFTs with physical products to make shoppers feel they’re getting more than a 2D image. Nike recently launched its own Web 3 platform for future NFT trading, indicating that brands remain optimistic about the future of digital tokens.
Even though Donald Trump’s new NFT collection, released in mid-December, made the concept uncool again, more young people and artists are embracing this art form and building their careers around it. A perfect example is high school student Alice Miao, who has made a name for herself by designing virtual reality dresses. In 2023, we should expect more creative advances in the field of NFTs.
The intersection of different technologies
Most new technological innovations are interconnected. For example, there would be no metaverse without VR or AR technologies, and AI is essential when programming avatars used during live broadcasts.
“For example, you can imagine how ChatGPT can be integrated with some kind of photorealistic avatar, where people can talk to these avatars,” said Liu, CTO of DIGITWIN Technologies. “It will be difficult to tell if a person is real.”
This kind of merging can make things easier if you use it to your advantage. Imagine creating an avatar with the skills of a psychotherapist who works around the clock.
However, AI and avatars are also a double-edged sword, with many raising concerns about online scams and identity theft. From January 2023, China will implement new regulations banning all artificial intelligence art without a watermark. However, the Internet is difficult to control, and the effectiveness of these rules will be tested in practice.