ByteDance plans to focus on "fun games", as its gaming business enters second phase after turbulent restructuring

ByteDance seems to have finally decided on the future of its video game division. With the appointment of the new CEO of Nuverse, the Chinese tech giant plans to build a more centralized management structure and focus on long-term growth.

Mobile Legends: Bang Bang

What happened?

  • According to South China Morning Post, ByteDance today officially appointed Zhang Yunfan as the new CEO of its gaming unit Nuverse. This comes a few weeks after he became the head of Moonton Technology, a studio behind MOBA Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.
  • Zhang and Hua Wei, head of ByteDance’s HR department, released an internal letter (obtained by GameLook), announcing that the company’s gaming business has “entered the second phase.”
  • “Moving forward, we will adhere to long-term [goals] and be more patient in product development and operations,” they said. “Our goal is to ‘make fun games for users,’ and the company’s mission of ‘inspiring creativity and enriching life’ will continue to be implemented in the game business.”
  • ByteDance will continue to look at metrics such as DAU (daily active users) and profit, but making “fun games” should be the foundation of its video game business.
  • Zhang Yunfan is an experienced executive, who worked at NetEase from 2003 to 2013. He also served as COO and president of game business at Perfect World, overseeing the company’s mobile game division.
  • In his new role, Zhang plans to improve the strategy of ByteDance’s gaming unit and create a more centralized management and reporting structure. “Strategically, we need to focus on providing the team with stable expectations and environment; in terms of organizational management and incentive mechanisms, we need to adopt methods that are in line with the practices of the gaming industry,” the letter reads.

Will ByteDance divest more games and studios?

  • ByteDance announced a restructuring of its video game business last November, planning to write down most unreleased titles and sell some projects to other companies.
  • It reportedly made job cuts at Nuverse and considered selling rights to at least two games, MMORPG Crystal of Atlan and shooter Earth: Revival. The list of assets that could be divested even included Moonton, which ByteDance acquired at a $4 billion valuation in 2021.
  • The company appeared unhappy with the performance of its video game division, especially after spending around 30 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) on various M&A deals in the area between 2019 and 2022.
  • Earlier this month, ByteDance sold C4Games, a studio behind mobile game Red Alert Online, to Tencent-backed China Ruyi Holdings. However, it is expected to be the last divestment made as part of the restructuring.
  • Moonton, as well as Crystal of Atlan and Earth: Revival, will remain with ByteDance. Nuverse will also continue to be the publisher of Marvel Snap.
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