According to the official Weibo account of Honor of Kings, starting from January 21st, the Honor of Kings Douyin live streaming will be fully open. From January 14th to 17th is the technical testing period; from January 18th to 20th is the themed live streaming period, and Zhang Daxian, a top anchor for Honor of Kings, will have a continuous broadcast for three days.
Douyin and Honor of Kings have reconciled this time, which has a milestone significance.
Honor of Kings is a popular game under Tencent. According to Sensor Tower store intelligence data, in November 2023, Honor of Kings by Tencent earned a revenue of $193 million on global App Store and Google Play, ranking first on the global mobile gaming bestseller list.
But in the past few years, the conflict between Tencent and ByteDance over game copyrights has never ceased.
Since 2016, Tencent has filed multiple lawsuits against ByteDance, accusing its platform of live-streaming Tencent games and infringing on copyright. In 2019 alone, there were as many as 16 related lawsuits. On February 18th, 2019, Tencent obtained a litigation injunction from the Guangzhou Intellectual Property Court, demanding that Xigua Video cease broadcasting content of the game Honor of Kings by user livestreams. This marked the first “behavioral preservation injunction” in China’s game livestreaming industry and escalated copyright conflicts to a peak.
The copyright issue between Douyin and Honor of Kings has been further refined.
On August 9, 2021, the China Judgements Online released a judgment which revealed that Tencent Computer Systems Co., Ltd. of Shenzhen filed a lawsuit against Beijing Weibo Shijie Technology Co., Ltd. (the developer and operator of the mobile application “Douyin”) for copyright infringement and unfair competition related to the game Honor of Kings. They demanded compensation for economic losses and reasonable legal expenses amounting to 5.2 million yuan (approximatly $0.7 million) from Guangdong Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court. In the end, the court ruled that Beijing Weibo Shijie Technology Co., Ltd. should compensate Tencent with an amount of 600,000 yuan (approximatly $83,707) for economic losses and reasonable legal expenses.
Behind the gaming business, the underlying logic of competition between two major companies is: after the rise of Douyin, this product has greatly encroached on users’ attention, forcing Tencent to engage in a battle with it.
But as of today, the focus of the two internet giants’ race track has made them no longer each other’s main competitors. In November last year, ByteDance’s gaming business, Nuverse, underwent a large-scale business contraction – for games that have already been launched and performed well, they will seek divestment while ensuring operation; for projects that have not yet been launched, except for a few innovative projects and related technical projects, all will be shut down.
Under a series of downsizing and restructuring, the focus of this company has shifted towards businesses with higher monetization efficiency. By 2023, the GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) of Douyin’s e-commerce has exceeded 2 trillion yuan. As the scale and importance of its e-commerce business continue to grow, it is evident that this company’s long-term vision and attention will not be focused on gaming.
The competitive landscape of internet giants is quietly undergoing changes, and this collaboration is a powerful annotation.