TikTok parent company ByteDance acquires Mobile Legends dev in $4 billion deal

ByteDance has previously signaled its interest in getting into gaming, and it made a big move with the $4 billion acquisition of mobile MOBA dev Moonton.


The parent company that owns TikTok is far more than just short-span meme videos. ByteDance has shown a lot of interest in the gaming industry with some key staffing and investments in the past. However, its move this week may be one of the largest yet. Recently, ByteDance just announced acquisition of mobile game developer Moonton, which happens to run the highly popular mobile MOBA title Mobile Legends. The deal came out to the alleged tune of $4 billion.

ByteDance’s acquisition of Mobile Legends developer Moonton was reported on Reuters on March 22, 2021 by sources familiar with the deal. Mobile Legends is a highly popular game that enjoys a large player population worldwide, and especially in Southeast Asia. It’s the latest pickup by ByteDance’s growing gaming division known as Nuverse, which has stacked its staff with around 2,000 employees and aims to push into direct competition with fellow Chinese gaming company Tencent. With Mobile Legends having already crossed $1 billion in revenue, it’s a huge signal of ByteDance’s efforts grab a sizable place in the gaming scene, as noted by analyst Daniel “ZhugeEX” Ahmad.

ByteDance didn’t share the full details on the acquisition, but it did share a statement with Reuters in response to the matter.

“Through cross-team collaboration and drawing on lessons and insights from its own rapid growth, Moonton provides the strategic support needed to accelerate Nuverse’s global gaming offerings,” ByteDance wrote.

Interestingly, Tencent itself made a huge bid on acquisition of Moonton as well, but ByteDance was not only able to outbid, but take the acquisition to the finish line. With TikTok as a notable source of conversation in pop culture and concerns of privacy, it found itself at risk of a ban in the United States last year, but was eventually able to partner with Oracle to sell off its sizeable North American operations.

With its latest acquisition of Moonton and Mobile Legends, ByteDance continues to signal that Tencent isn’t the only gaming behemoth in China, though it has often seemed like it. It will remain to be seen how much these supermassive groups continue to butt heads in the future as TikTok remains popular and both ByteDance and Tencent continue to acquire and invest in gaming studios left and right.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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