Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has been quietly bolstering its gaming business over the past two months, renewing its efforts into a field that’s historically the domain of arch-rival Tencent. The company has added a total of 16 mini games to its online marketplace Taobao to date.
The renewed initiative started this April when Alibaba acquired the exclusive distribution rights for Travel Frog in mainland China. The Chinese-language and localized version of the Japanese hit was then added to China’s top e-commerce site Taobao. The sale of Travel Frog’s official products from t-shirts, plush toys, key-chains to cushions surpassed RMB 100 million (around $14 million) around one month after the launch of the game. Other mini-games available on Taobao platform are casual games with simple gameplay, such as Gomoku and matching games.
Alibaba is hasn’t been very active in gaming, but it has long been a field the giant has been eyeing, just like what e-commerce is for Tencent. One of Alibaba’s earliest gaming endeavors can be dated back to 2014 when it integrated a gaming center in Taobao. Gaming feature was also added to Laiwang, Alibaba’s WeChat counterpart to take on Tencent back then. But both of the gaming and social efforts fell flat.
Alibaba’s renewed gaming push comes as a part of its strategy to attract users with premium contents through live streaming, short video, etc. At the beginning of this year, Alibaba invested RMB 1 billion in mobile gaming distribution through gaming unit Ali Gaming.