ByteDance has invested in its mobile games business through significant acquisitions and is finding success outside of China.
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Chinese internet giant ByteDance’s nascent foray into gaming is showing signs of promise, with spending on its mobile titles increasing over the past year as it looks to challenge rivals. Tencent and NetEase.
According to data analytics firm Sensor Tower, the TikTok owner generated $1 billion in player spending on its mobile games between June 21, 2021 and June 20. in 2022, an increase of 16% over the same period last year. This number includes data from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, but does not include third-party Android stores in China.
ByteDance, best known for its Chinese version of short-video app TikTok and Douyin, has sought to expand aggressively into mobile gaming, where Tencent and NetEase dominate in China. This early year, ByteDance establishes a dedicated gaming business unit internally.
Last year, ByteDance acquired major game studio Moonton and C4, which helps fuel its efforts overseas by purchasing popular games as part of the deals.
The majority of player spending is on games acquired by ByteDance. Moonton’s Mobile Legends: Bang Bang generated $317.7 million, 32 percent of the $1 billion annual figure, Sensor Tower said. C4’s Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine, followed closely in second place.
Craig Chapple, mobile insights strategist at Sensor Tower, told CNBC via email: “ByteDance’s deals with Mobile Legends developer Moonton and Girls Chronicle C4 studio have been transformative.
“It has built up its gaming operations so quickly that it has become an important mobile game publisher, especially in China and Asia. There is a long way to go to catch up with competitors. Heavyweights like NetEase and Tencent, of course, but it’s moving in the right direction.”
For comparison between June 21, 2021 and June 20, 2022, player spending on Tencent’s mobile games totaled $7.9 billion globally, while NetEase’s figure $3.1 billion, compared to ByteDance’s $1 billion.
ByteDance has enjoyed global success with its TikTok app, and the Beijing-based company is starting to see results in the gaming space thanks to those acquisitions.
The company’s biggest markets are in Asia, with Japan accounting for 34% of player spending on its mobile titles, while China is second and the United States is third, Chapple said. .
“What I find most interesting is how significant its deals for Moonton and C4 have been during that international expansion,” he added.
During the last year, the largest market by revenue for Moonton’s Mobile Legends was the United States with more than $50 million, Sensor Tower data shows. Meanwhile, C4’s Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine, grossed $303.5 million during that period in Japan, according to figures.
International expansion is key for ByteDance as regulators in China have tightened oversight of the domestic gaming sector. Last year, Beijing said that children under the age of 18 were only allowed to play online games for up to three hours per week. And China’s game industry is just appeared after a months-long approval freeze. In China, games need regulatory approval in order to be monetized.
These stringent measures hit China’s gaming giants as Tencent posted its slowest-ever revenue growth in second quarter of the year.
Both Tencent and NetEase have looking for international markets for growtha tactic that ByteDance appears to be repeating amid struggling regulations at home.
“The company has spent the past year growing its operations both in China and internationally. Faced with regulatory challenges in China, we could see ByteDance join Tencent and NetEase and expand operate internationally, which the company has experienced and has had great success with with TikTok,” said Chapple.