ByteDance’s Gaming Ambitions Reverse

Matt Dion
2 min readDec 10, 2023

Just two years after pouring millions into gaming investments, ByteDance is reversing course and looking to divest. Why the sudden change of strategy? What does this retreat mean for the company’s future in gaming?

Source: CultureSlate

It is both surprising and also entirely par for the course in 2023 that TikTok maker ByteDance is reportedly set to shutter its games division, Nuverse.

According to Reuters, the move is expected to impact “hundreds of employees” in a continuation of what has been a brutal year-long trend of industry-wide redundancies. TechCrunch reported that “mass layoffs” have already begun, as of November 27.

What is unexpected is how swiftly ByteDance is making this retreat after several years of aggressive investment in Nuverse and its subsidiaries.

Originally founded in 2019, Nuverse first stepped into the spotlight in early 2021 with a series of big swings. In March of that year, Nuverse acquired Mobile Legends: Bang Bang developer Moonton Technologies. At the time, the Shanghai-based developer was said to be valued at an eye-popping $4B — a figure that has surely dwindled in the ensuing years as the industry has struggled under the weight of uncertain macroeconomic conditions and a frenzy of M&A at inflated prices.

Just a month later, Beijing-based C4 Games was also brought into the fold for an undisclosed price. Known for its China-only Command & Conquer spin-off Red Alert Online, the seasoned developer had seen success in Japan with its mobile idle RPG Houchi Shoujo and was expected to provide additional production capacity for Nuverse’s upcoming projects.

With these acquisitions, ByteDance seemed to be gearing up to take on domestic rivals Tencent and NetEase…

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Matt Dion

Always Scheming is the product of Matt Dion, a product manager, writer, and games industry professional.