While Tencent is well known for its super app WeChat and messaging platform QQ, the firm also happens to be the world’s biggest video game company. Now, ByteDance, a firm mostly known for short-video apps Douyin and TikTok, wants to challenge Tencent in the gaming business by following some key elements of Tencent’s successful strategy.
In 2003, Tencent started its venture into games when it launched a casual game platform named QQ Games, and leveraged its social platforms WeChat and QQ to acquire users. However, success didn’t happen overnight, and casual games only served as an entry point.
It wasn’t until 2015 with hit mobile game Honor of Kings that Tencent began to secure a dominant global position. Today, in addition to developing its own successful titles, Tencent holds key investments in many major game studios responsible for some of the biggest titles across the world.
In 2018, ByteDance dipped its toes into the gaming arena when it launched a mini program feature, mainly composed of mini-games, within its news aggregator platform Toutiao. The following year, the firm released its first self-developed casual mini-game, named Yinyue Qiuqiu, inside short-video app Douyin.
Like Tencent, ByteDance has also launched a platform for casual games called Ohayoo, open to all developers, and is hoping to utilize the popularity of its app Douyin and Toutiao to build up a large user base. ByteDance is also looking to develop mid-core to hardcore games in an effort to incubate the next hit to challenge Tencent, and has invested to acquire successful gaming companies across China.
What’s more, the firm has already hired more than 1,000 employees for its gaming division and announced plans to double the number by the end of 2020.
Alhough ByteDance has begun to take a piece of the pie in the domestic scene, it will encounter a saturated market dominated by Tencent and distant runner-up NetEase. Combined, these two companies take up 70% of the gaming business in China.
Can ByteDance follow the steps of Tencent to become a major player in the gaming industry? Possibly, but success takes time, effort, and a bit of luck.
To learn more about ByteDance’s gaming ambitions, check out the second episode of Beyond TikTok, a series that looks at ByteDance’s ambitions to diversify its business.
Watch our first episode: Will ByteDance erode Alibaba’s e-commerce dominance?
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