- According to Sensor Tower, the TikTok owner spent $1 billion on its mobile games between June 21, 2021 and June 20, 2022, a 16% increase from the same period last year.
- ByteDance, best known for its short video app TikTok and the Chinese version of Douyin, has tried to expand aggressively into mobile gaming, a field dominated by Tencent and NetEase in China.
- ByteDance acquired major gaming studios Moonton and C4, helping to give a major boost to its efforts overseas by purchasing the popular game as part of the deals.
Chinese Internet giant ByteDance’s early foray into gaming is showing signs of promise to spend the past year on its mobile titles as it challenges rivals Tencent and NetEase.
According to data analytics company Sensor Tower, the owner of TikTok spent $1 billion on its mobile games between June 21, 2021 and June 20, 2022, up 16% from the same period last year. This figure includes data from Apple’s App Store and Google Play, but not third-party Android stores in China.
ByteDance, best known for its short video app TikTok and the Chinese version of Douyin, has tried to expand aggressively into mobile gaming, a field dominated by Tencent and NetEase in China. Earlier this year, ByteDance established a dedicated gaming business unit internally.
Last year, ByteDance acquired major gaming studios Moonton and C4, helping to give a major boost to its efforts overseas by buying popular games as part of the deals.
The bulk of player spending was on games acquired by ByteDance. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang from Moonlight generated $317.7 million, which is 32% of the annual $1 billion figure, Sensor Tower said. C4’s Girls Chronicle: Idol Heroine follows closely in second place.
“ByteDance’s deals for Mobile Legends developer Moonton and Girls Chronicle Studio C4 have been transformative,” Sensor Tower mobile insights strategist Craig Chappell told CNBC via email.
“It has built up its game operations so quickly that it is already becoming a significant mobile game publisher, especially in China and Asia. It has a long way to go to catch up with heavyweights like NetEase and Tencent. , but it is moving in the right direction.”
For comparison, between June 21, 2021 and June 20, 2022, player spending in Tencent mobile games totaled $7.9 billion globally, compared to ByteDance’s $1 billion, with NetEase’s figure totaling $3.1 billion.
ByteDance has found success globally with its TikTok app, and the Beijing-headquartered company is starting to see results in gaming thanks to those acquisitions.
Chappell said the company’s biggest markets are in Asia, with Japan accounting for 34% of player spending on its mobile titles, while China ranks second and the United States in third.
“What I find most interesting is how important their deals for Moonton and C4 are in that international expansion,” he said.
During the past year, the United States was the largest market by revenue for Moonton’s Mobile Legends at over $50 million, Sensor Tower data showed. C4’s Girls Chronicle: Idol Heroine, meanwhile, earned $303.5 million during that period in Japan, according to statistics.
International expansion is important for ByteDance as regulators in China have tightened scrutiny of the domestic gaming sector. Last year, Beijing said that children under 18 were only allowed to play online games for three hours per week. And China’s gaming industry is just emerging from a month-long approval freeze. In China, regulatory approval is required to monetize games.
These tough measures have hit China’s gaming giant Tencent with its slowest revenue growth in the second quarter of the year.
Tencent and NetEase have both looked to international markets for growth, a strategy that ByteDance appears to be repeating amid regulatory headwinds at home.
“The company has spent the last year growing its operations in China and internationally. Faced with regulatory challenges in China, we can see ByteDance joining Tencent and NetEase and expanding its operations internationally , something that the company already has a great deal of experience and success with with TikTok,” said Chappell.