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TikTok owner ByteDance has been quietly building an internal game division so it can break into the lucrative mobile games market.
According to Bloomberg, the Chinese internet company has already purchased a number of development studios and exclusive distribution rights, and is preparing to releases its first two titles later this spring.
"People familiar with the matter" claim the company is specifically targeting the both the local and overseas non-casual market, and has been filling its ranks with "top talent" from rival game companies.
Although ByteDance has already produced a number of casual games that pulled in ad-based revenue, the company is reportedly keen to make a larger strategic shift so it can begin targeting big-spending ‘hardcore’ players.
As such, its current game pipeline will include massively multiplayer online games with "Chinese fantasy elements," which will be built by newly acquired studios with plenty of experience in the genre.
Of course, in order to make any real headway ByteDance will need to challenge the dominance of Tencent -- and that’s no easy feat. Aside from being the biggest player in the Chinese mobile games market, Tencent also has stakes in a number of Western companies including Riot Games, Supercell and Epic Games.
It’s a situation that means, while ByteDance might be able to disrupt the status quo established by Tencent, it’ll struggle (for the time being, at least) to pose a real threat to its Chinese rival.
"[ByteDance’s] massive global user base and investment in gaming could make it a big disruptor in the gaming space this year," said Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad, speaking to Bloomberg.
"[However,] while they may be able to develop a number of hit titles in the China market, we believe it will still be difficult for them to truly challenge Tencent."