TikTok maker said to be building a gaming team
ByteDance is creating games for its news app Jinri Toutiao
Video game clips are hugely popular on TikTok, especially Fortnite clips, which have spawned countless memes. In China, though, the short video app is being sued for broadcasting certain games owned by the country’s biggest game distributor, Tencent.
Now it seems that TikTok’s parent company is pushing back. Beijing News reported that ByteDance’s news aggregation platform, Jinri Toutiao, is setting up its own 200-person-strong gaming unit.
ByteDance has declined to comment on the news. But it would make sense for the company, which started adding games to Jinri Toutiao last year. It also launched mini games in TikTok (locally known as Douyin) in February this year, starting with a game about a cute, little ball.
ByteDance also bought a gaming startup called Mokun Technology this year, which has titles such as Flick Up and Fighter of the Destiny.
ByteDance’s gaming ambitions seem irksome for Tencent, which owns the rights to some of the biggest games available today, including Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG Mobile and the insanely popular Honor of Kings (aka Arena of Valor).
Tencent started a full-blown offensive against ByteDance by filing a lawsuit in March, requesting that it stop streaming Tencent’s hit titles CrossFire and Honour of Kings on its own app. So far, Tencent has requested bans on game streaming for eight times.
According to Beijing News, ByteDance is still far off from being able to compete in the gaming big leagues by going up against a juggernaut like Tencent. The report states that the gaming team will focus on buying and developing small games, including mini games. Much like mini programs, mini games are simple games that can be played from within another app -- no need for a separate download.
But the mini game push also treads on the turf of another Tencent business, i.e. WeChat mini games. By the end of last year, WeChat had more than 7,000 mini games, with more than 100 million daily active players.
Bytedance, the world's most valuable startup, is not just looking into games in its efforts to expand. It might not even be Bytedance’s most important investment considering how inconvenient it is to find mini games on Toutiao and TikTok, which can only be found by searching.
At the beginning of the year, ByteDance bought patents from fallen Chinese smartphone maker Smartisan. The short video champion is now reportedly making its own smartphone preloaded with its apps and games (funnily enough, Tencent might be looking into doing the same).
ByteDance's first foray into consumer hardware, however, might be educational gadgets, Bloomberg reported.