Game over for ByteDance's big video game studio dream?

TikTok parent reportedly gives hundreds the tintack

TikTok parent ByteDance is expected to sashay away from its attempts at being a major video game maker, with studio division Nuverse reportedly set to shutter operations in the coming months. 

Nuverse, created by Beijing-based ByteDance in 2019 as one of several units in a large-scale reorganization, is likely best known in the West for Marvel Snap, a digital card game based on the Marvel comics universe. The game has won several awards since its release last year.

"We regularly review our businesses and make adjustments to centre on long-term strategic growth areas. Following a recent review, we've made the difficult decision to restructure our gaming business," ByteDance told CNBC of the shutdown without providing additional details.

It's believed hundreds of folks face the sack as a result of the reported shake-up. Spokespeople for ByteDance or Nuverse could not be reached for immediate further comment.

ByteDance's statements elsewhere don't make it entirely clear what the extent of the reshuffle will be; it was reported for instance that ByteDance would "wind down" the Nuverse brand.

The Chinese TikTok maker reportedly planned to tell Nuverse employees on Monday that they should stop working on unreleased titles by the end of the month, and that it was going to look for buyers of games that have already launched, like Marvel Snap, Warhammer 40k: Lost Crusade, Ragnarok X: Next Generation, and others. 

Chinese news sources said Nuverse had more than 3,000 employees as of September 2022, but it also has subsidiaries.

Through Nuverse, ByteDance purchased Chinese video game studios Shanghai Moonton Technology and C4Games in 2021 to build out an arsenal of developers as it attempted a significant push into gaming.

Now ByteDance seems to have had second thoughts on those ambitions, scaling back its hopes of operating a gaming mega-studio.

The headcount at those firms, and their futures, isn't clear, although ByteDance was reportedly looking for a buyer for Moonton as recently as earlier this month.

ByteDance reportedly has no plans to shrink its casual gaming arm Ohayoo, and games that run on TikTok will continue to be developed as well.

The gaming industry, like much of the tech world including major Chinese outfits like ByteDance, has been hit by considerable layoffs over the past year. According to industry watchers tracking careers in the video game world, around 8,000 jobs have been cut this year.

Gaming studios have justified layoffs with explanations of economic uncertainty necessitating restructuring of teams and the jettisoning of superfluous staff after massive pandemic hiring.

ByteDance reportedly posted record sales of $29 billion in the third quarter of 2023, up 40 percent from the previous quarter. ®

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