Pony Ma, chairman and CEO of Tencent — the Chinese payments and social media giant that is also the world’s biggest video games vendor — said in the company’s third-quarter performance call this week that the metaverse is “very exciting, but a little bit vague,” and “an opportunity that really adds growth to the existing industries.”

Despite posting a 13% year-over-year rise, Tencent’s revenue growth — coming in the midst of China’s new restrictions on online gaming — fell short of market expectations.

Fast facts

  • Ma’s comments add to recent speculations that Tencent will be betting big on the metaverse. In October, an internal letter leaked that described the development of a new studio under its Timi Studio Group; an employee confirmed the studio is essentially for building in the metaverse. In September, multiple local media reported that Tencent was hiring dozens of employees for projects that appeared to be related to the metaverse.
  • Martin Lau, president of Tencent Holdings, said in the after-earnings call  that gaming and social networking can be the pathways to the metaverse. “We felt that we have a lot of tech and capability that will allow us to approach the metaverse opportunity,” Lau said.
  • Tencent’s overall revenue growth has been slowing, however, in the midst of China’s new restrictions on gaming, such as limiting the hours children can play. The latest results shows that third-quarter revenue of 142.4 billion yuan (US$22.2 billion) is up 13% year-over-year YoY but performed slightly below market expectations of 145.4 billion yuan (US$22.7 billion).