After eyeing the increasingly lucrative gaming industry for a year, TikTok parent ByteDance will designate a senior executive to lead and grow its gaming business, according to Thomson Reuters. Yan Shou, one of the 14 executives who report directly to ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming, is said to be taking the position. Reuters cites people familiar with the matters writing that the new division will focus wholly on gaming, and is planning on launching a mobile MOBA game that directly competes with Tencent’s Honor of Kings.
Despite not having developed the MOBA game yet, ByteDance has published multiple other games, some of which very successful. Rendered from a traditional Chinese card game, Xiaomei Fights the Landlord is the most popular game ByteDance has yet published. Together with My Home – Design Dreams and My Kungfu also published by ByteDance, the three broke into the top five free mobile games in China on the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday.
Gaming has been of great strategic significance to ByteDance since early 2019, when it started to recruit for its gaming R&D project “Oasis”. It was also reported that ByteDance aquired game related businesses including levelup.ai, while setting up a game developing army with up to 1,000 employees. ByteDance’s focus on game business is widely recognized as a strategy to monetize its active users following Tencent’s model. By heavily promoting its games on its hit apps TikTok and Jinri Toutiao, ByteDance has proven its ability to monetize their userbase.
According to GameLook, ByteDance could launch its first self-developed heavy game in the first quarter of 2020. Chinese gaming industry has been dominated by two big players: Tencent and Netease. With ByteDance marching into the scene, this status quo could be upset.