China's immersive industry shifts to high-quality development
By Zhu Zhu and Su Xinbo
Immersive industry – an industry with entertainment projects enabling audiences to have an interactive experience in a physical space – that has already been taking shape these years in China, is now witnessing a shift toward high-quality development.
Sometimes relied on virtual reality and augmented reality to improve experiences, the industry is carried toward a higher-end development mode by technologies upgrading. New infrastructures, such as 5G and 6G, AI, cloud computing and data centers, provide powerful support for immersive experiences. The popularization of 5G and cloud computing will reduce the weight and improve the mobility of terminal devices to ease dizziness, while AI technology based on deep learning algorithms will improve the equipment's efficiency of data collection and processing.
The COVID-19 has greatly stimulated the development of the contact-free business in China, Lecturer of the New York University Shanghai Du Jiayi said, adding that, however, the current technologies are not good enough to create a life-like world.
With the advent of technologies such as 6G, Du said, "We may be able to create an immersive virtual space at greater distances and vastly bigger spaces, users could enjoy interactive experiences, such as cultural, social and entertainment activities. It will totally change the way we live and become the next digital phenomenon."
The technology could also spread to various sectors such as construction and tourism in the future, she added.
According to a white paper released by NextScene Research last year, the scale of China's immersive industry stood at 4.8 billion yuan ($750 million) in 2019. The categories in the industry increased to 35 in 2019 from 21 in 2018, with 1,100 single items for people to entertain.
Research company iiMedia expected the immersive sector to reach a market scale of over 17 billion yuan in 2021, up 45 percent year on year.
As the industry upgrades, many projects cropped up during the COVID-19 have been replaced by more tech-oriented products since early this year. Among them is a live game that young Chinese are flocking to – scripted murders games, or role-playing murder mystery games.
Now large companies, especially tech firms and listed enterprises, have already started venturing into the immersive sector, Fan Zhe, CEO of scripted murder service provider NextScene, said, illustrating that a reality show based on the structure of scripted murder games produced by iQIYI.
Other popular immersive experiences include watching movies in an immersive environment. Mahua Fun Age has started to purchase the intellectual property of popular dramas and musicals and add special settings like the pub and restaurant interfaces to level up the experience for audiences.
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism said in June that China will build 100 immersive projects by 2025, and encouraged theme parks and cultural relic organizations to develop more immersive projects.
In the transitioning process, local governments are making efforts to tackle existing problems in the immersive sector including a lack of original quality, low-quality content, serious infringement and piracy, venue safety problems. Shanghai became the first city to include scripted murder games into regulations management, with the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Culture and Tourism publishing a notice last week.