TikTok owner ByteDance will appoint an executive to exclusively lead its fledgling gaming business, Reuters reported on Friday, signaling its ambitions to take a larger share of the lucrative mobile gaming market dominated by Tencent and Netease.

Why it matters: The company has been eyeing the mobile games market for a year as it seeks new avenues of growth to diversify its business.

  • The company is focusing on developing its own games. In January, media reported that the company is planning to launch its first non-casual games this spring, targeting both the domestic and overseas markets.
  • The Chinese unicorn is going head to head with Tencent, which accounted for 55.8% of the country’s overall mobile game revenue in the third quarter of 2019, as well as Netease, which earned 17.3%.

Details: Yan Shou, an executive who currently oversees Bytedance’s strategy and investment unit, will focus exclusively on the company’s gaming business as it becomes an increasingly important source of growth, Reuters reported citing anonymous sources.

  • The company is hoping to push out a game like “Honor of Kings,” a popular game developed by Tencent. The team is said to be developing several games simultaneously.
  • Prior to joining Bytedance, Yan was a strategy manager at Tencent.
  • The leadership change means there is an opening for the new head of strategy and investment unit. Currently, the team is temporarily run by two directors, according to a source.

Context: ByteDance’s foray into games started when it rolled out in-app mini-games, popularized by Tencent, for short video app Douyin in February 2019.

  • The company’s gaming business as well as video game livestreaming unit is threatening Tencent’s dominance. Tencent has been trying to strip Bytedance platform’s rights to stream its games and retain them for the several live-streaming platforms it has invested in, including Douyu and Huya.

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email: nicole.jao.iting@gmail.com. More by Nicole Jao

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