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Bytedance, owner of Tiktok, acquires Mobile Legends

Mobile Legends is a wildly popular 5v5 MOBA in the mobile gaming space
Mobile Legends is a wildly popular 5v5 MOBA in the mobile gaming space
ANALYST
Modified 22 Mar 2021
News

Mobile Legends developer Moonton Technology will be acquired by Bytedance, the owner of Tiktok, in a $4 billion valuation, as per a Reuters report. This is part of their push to make sizeable inroads into the video games business, putting them in direct competition with China’s Tencent.

Mobile Legends is an extremely popular game in the Asian mobile gaming landscape. Until the Indian government’s ban on a big list of Chinese apps last year, the MOBA had a sizable player base in the country.

Reputed industry analyst Daniel Ahmad of Niko Partners tweeted:

“Bytedance sees gaming as a key strategic vertical after establishing itself as the leader in short video.”

He also stated in the tweet’s thread that Mobile Legends has over 90 million monthly users and nearly $1bn in revenue.


Bytedance’s acquisition of Mobile Legends and what it means

Tencent, China’s behemoth video game and social media company, also made a bid for Moonton. However, the offer was matched by ByteDance last week, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters. When contacted by Reuters, Tencent said it does not comment on market speculation.

On condition of anonymity, a Reuters source revealed that in an internal memo, Yuan Jing, CEO of Moonton, stated that the company would operate independently from ByteDance after the acquisition.

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This means that Bytedance would now have Mobile Legends, which would compete with Tencent’s Honor of Kings (known as Arena of Valor outside China) and League of Legends, both cash cows for Tencent.

It will be fascinating to see how this acquisition of Mobile Legends, termed one of the most significant purchases this year by industry analysts, pans out for Bytedance.

Since 2018, Bytedance has acquired 11 game companies, six of which were full acquisitions. The acquired asset and talents were then incorporated into Bytedance’s gaming studios. Acqui-hiring has been the name of the game for Bytedance as they make their way into the core gaming space.

It will be interesting to see the fight among these tech giants as they make their way into the core gaming space more and more.

Published 22 Mar 2021, 16:09 IST
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