On Tuesday, Unity announced it’s partnering with Bytedance to provide instant game technology for Bytedance Instant Games. The cooperation aims to convert many existing mobile games into instant games for players to experience on Bytedance’s main social video app Douyin (Chinese TikTok) that has a DAU of 400 million and growing. Given that instant games historically haven’t generate much revenue in China, the move is likely initially focused on user engagement and data collection for its long-term gaming strategy.
Bytedance’s ‘silent’ gaming ambition has been well documented. The gaming division is split into two main categories: 1) hypercasual games as a mature profit center, and 2) “the rest” including publishing, self-developed games, and instant games, headed by the newly appointed Yan Shou (ex-Tencent) as Head of Games.
Although hypercasual games command huge download volumes in China, the mid-core/hardcore genres are still the most popular and the most profitable. And so, Bytedance’s expansion continues. Having invested in and/or acquired 7 gaming companies in China since March 2019, Bytedance now has 8 core studios, 20+ self-developed/published titles, and more than 1,000 employees in the gaming division. Bytedance’s non-advertising games revenue is estimated to be around $300-500 million in 2020.
Will Bytedance be able to move up in the gaming sector to take on the pole position of Tencent and NetEase? Only time will tell. But if we look across the pond to Facebook and Snap, which are beginning to leverage their social networks for instant games, or Netflix, which experienced great success in leveraging its viewership data to generate amazing content, the odds are in Bytedance’s favor. Not only is Instant Gaming a rising trend for tech titans around the globe, but it should be a rising trend for Bytedance as well. Read our mini-deep dive on Playco to learn more about the recent heat instant games are getting.