ByteDance, the startup company behind Tiktok, is intending to dive even deeper into the gaming industry. According to Bloomberg, the company has been buying up game studios such as Shanghai Mokun Digital Technology and Levelup.ai, as well as exclusive title distribution rights. They are also recruiting talented individuals from rival companies in order to build a team of more than 1,000 in order to develop their games, with two games that will be releasing this spring.
One of the people that ByteDance has hired is Perfect World executive Wang Kuiwu, a major esports tournament organizer and game developer who will be one of the leaders of the gaming division of Tiktok. These recruitments from ByteDance are part of a larger investment in the creation of more noncasual hardcore video games. An analyst with an Asia-focused gaming research firm known as Niko Partners Daniel Ahmad stated that ByteDance’s “massive global user base and investment in gaming could make it a big disruptor in the gaming space this year.” ByteDance has also been making a “global push” by hiring publishing and marketing staff from overseas, with one job post even looking for people to work with influencers to promote games. The company has also made postings for job candidates to manage “indie mobile game publishing projects throughout their life cycle.”
The Bloomberg article states that ByteDance’s games will involve massive multiplayer online games that include Chinese fantasy elements. This can be supported by the fact that ByteDance has acquired Pangu, as well as the previously mentioned Shanghai Mokun, as both studios have developed similar games in the past. With all this effort to draw in new talent, ByteDance appears to be attempting to compete with Tencent in the gaming market, however, Tencent still dominates the mobile game industry with PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty Mobile, and Honour of Kings. While ByteDance may have a large audience of engaged teens, they still have a ways to go, and as Daniel Ahmad stated, “Gaming is a strategic vertical for tech companies in China as it is a key way to generate additional revenue from a large audience […] While they may be able to develop a number of hit titles in the China market, we believe it will still be difficult for them to truly challenge Tencent.”