After 14 years of being sanctioned from operating in mainland China, Meta is set to return to the country with the help of a new, lower-priced version of its VR headset, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Meta’s planned return is thanks to a deal—allegedly still in preliminary stages—with China’s Tencent, the world’s largest videogame company and soon-to-be exclusive seller of Meta headsets in China, WSJ reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

The report maintains Tencent will start selling the headset beginning in late 2024, with the two companies reaching a deal after about a year of negotiations.

Quest 3 | Photo by Road to VR

While the report didn’t mention a potential price of the “lower-priced” VR headset, it’s said the China version could use cheaper lenses than the more costly pancake optics in Quest 3. It’s also said the China-approved version could be sold in other markets besides mainland China.

The proposed deal is set to grant Meta a larger share of device sales, while Tencent will have a larger share of content and service revenue, as the headset will feature games and apps published by the Shenzhen, China-based entertainment conglomerate.

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As it is today, Meta’s VR hardware is subsidized by content sales, which would make the deal less attractive for Meta on paper. Still, using its VR headset tech to re-enter China, where it might further leverage growth opportunities for other products, may be worth the price.

Meanwhile, it seems Meta is striking in China just as the homegrown competition falters. While ByteDance’s VR division Pico Interactive has gained territory in Europe over the past year with the launch of its Pico 4 standalone, earlier this week it was reported that Pico is set to lay off “hundreds” of employees as it refocuses on hardware development, something that has all but dashed hopes of taking on Meta in its home turf.

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  • ViRGiN

    It’s ridiculous to claim Pico gained territory in Europe.
    Yes, it’s sold here. No, nobody cares.

    Meta entering China is a promising concept for the industry, even when they are completly shielded from outside world.

    • kakek

      I’ve seen Pico used in a few touristic / comercial uses.
      Because if you’re going to make your own software for specific use anyway, they offer slightly better hardware for slightly lower price.

      Must not be much in terms of volume though.

  • silvaring

    What hardware advantages does this bring the global VR eco system?

    So far FB has stuck to US / EU… let Pico and the clones handle China. What now? Will we see a standardization of the hardware and controllers along with software standaradizations (e.g navigating workspaces with hand tracking / pinching)?

    Or is this all just another pipe dream like most of consumer vr for the last 5 years?

    • Anonymous

      It will make VR profitable for Meta and Zuck can tell stpuid short-term investors to stfu and let him do his VR dream.

      It can also convince AAA game companies, many of whom also controlled by souless accountants who don’t play one second of games – to finally invest in VR.

      • silvaring

        What effect will it have on VR hardware standardization though, thats my question.

  • another juan

    may this indicate that the much rumored quest 3 lite won’t be sold in america at all?

    • Guest

      …or vice-versa a PICO lite with a superior user interface will be sold in America???

    • Anonymous

      Why would Quest 3 Lite not be available in the US just because it is released in China?

      • another juan

        Because it makes sense that a product designed for the Chinese market will be sold in similar -emergent- markets, instead of the usual 1st world ones

  • I wonder if this time the operation will succeed (with the Go was quite a flop)

    • MeowMix

      the Go itself was a flop ….

  • Chris

    China’s Tencent is the biggest data collector and ‘Sanctioned Spyware’ producer in the world, way bigger than even Meta’s products. This deal gives Tencent the data harvesting rights which is their stock in trade. A Dystopian Dream Team – Meta and Tencent. Yikes.

    • MeowMix

      I bet this guy uses reddit, discord, which are both platforms Tencent has its claws in

    • Arno van Wingerde

      So, which VR set are you using?

    • CrusaderCaracal

      Yeah because china gives a shit about you