The nascent entry of Chinese internet giant ByteDance into the gaming arena is showing promise with its mobile gaming spending spiking over the past year as it looks to challenge rivals Tencent and Netease.
The owner of the TikTok platform generated $1 billion in gamer spending across its mobile games between June 21, 2021 and June 20, 2022, an increase of 16% over the same period last year.
This number includes data from the App Store and Google Play. But not from third-party Android stores in China.
ByteDance, famous for its short video app TikTok and the Chinese version of Douyin, is aggressively expanding into mobile games, an area dominated by China’s Tencent and NetEase. And earlier this year, ByteDance created a business unit dedicated to gaming internally.
And last year it acquired big game studios Moonton and C4, helping give a big boost to its overseas efforts by buying popular games as part of the deals.
The bulk of gamers’ spending was on games acquired by ByteDance. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang brought in $317.7 million, which is 32% of the $1 billion annual figure. It is closely followed in second place by Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine.
The company’s deals for Moonton and C4 have brought significant changes. It built its gaming operations so quickly that it became a significant publisher of mobile games, particularly in China and Asia.
It still has a long way to go to catch up with industry leaders such as Tencent and Netease. But ByteDance is moving correctly.
To compare between June 21, 2021 and June 20, 2022, total gamer spending across Tencent mobile games was $7.9 billion globally. Netease’s figure was $3.1 billion, compared to ByteDance’s $1 billion.
ByteDance’s mobile gaming efforts are paying off
ByteDance has achieved global success with its Tik Tok app. The Beijing-based company is starting to generate results in gaming thanks to these acquisitions.
The company’s largest market is in Asia, with Japan accounting for 34% of gamers’ spending on its mobile games. China ranks second and the United States ranks third.
It shows how important its deals with Moonton and C4 are in this international expansion. And over the past year, the US was the largest market for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, with more than $50 million in revenue.
Girls Chronicle: Idle Heroine made $303.5 million in revenue during that period in Japan.
International expansion is key for ByteDance as regulators in China tighten scrutiny on the local gaming sector.
Beijing said last year that only children under 18 were allowed to play online games for up to three hours a week.
The game industry in China is just beginning to emerge from a months-long approval freeze. Games in China need regulatory approval to be monetized.
These strict measures have affected gaming giants in China. Tencent recorded the slowest revenue growth in the second quarter of the year.
Tencent and Netease look to international markets for growth, a tactic used by ByteDance amid regulatory woes at home.
The company has spent the past year increasing its operations in China and internationally. It may join Tencent and Netease in expanding its operations internationally in order to address regulatory challenges in China.