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    Tencent and ByteDance Pause Feud, Team Up to Livestream Games

    From Jan. 21, Tencent will allow users to livestream their gameplay of “Honor of Kings” on the ByteDance-owned Douyin.

    After years of intense rivalry marked by numerous legal disputes and public spats, Tencent and ByteDance, two of China’s largest tech firms, appear to have buried the hatchet.

    Starting Jan. 21, Tencent will permit users to livestream their gameplay of “Honor of Kings,” one of China’s most popular games with nearly 150 million active monthly users, on ByteDance-owned app Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

    In a statement, Tencent announced plans to invite the renowned XYG e-sports club to livestream “Honor of Kings” during a technical testing phase from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17. This will be followed by a three-day livestream event starting Jan. 18, featuring Zhang Daxian, China’s top gaming livestreamer.

    Early signs of a thaw between the two companies emerged in December. Zhang, who rose to fame on the Tencent-backed game livestreaming platform Huya, started streaming on Douyin and previewed “DreamStar,” a new Tencent game.

    Gao Dongxu, chief analyst at EntBrains, a domestic consulting firm specializing in the entertainment industry, said the collaboration was a “win-win” for both companies.

    Speaking to Sixth Tone, Gao explained that while the new channel allows Tencent to promote “Honor of Kings” and attract more players, it also boosts ByteDance’s growth in the livestreaming sector.

    He added that the partnership would allow livestreamers to increase their revenue streams. “It’s not just a new channel; it’s a high-quality channel for Tencent,” he said.

    The partnership also comes at a time when ByteDance is reportedly scaling back its gaming sector efforts, with plans to downsize its gaming branch’s workforce, discontinue certain projects under development, and sell its current game titles.

    Both ByteDance and Tencent did not respond to Sixth Tone’s request for comments.

    In domestic media, the longstanding feud between the tech giants has been dubbed the touteng battle — a portmanteau of Toutiao, ByteDance’s app platform, and Tengxun, Tencent’s Chinese name.

    Spanning various business domains from short videos to mobile games, the rivalry reached a peak in 2018 when ByteDance’s founder Zhang Yiming accused Tencent of content blocking and app plagiarism. Tencent’s founder Ma Huateng characterized the allegations as “slander.”

    Business outlet Huxiu reported that between 2019 and 2021, Tianyancha, an enterprise database, recorded 948 disputes between the two companies, largely consisting of ByteDance’s complaints about Tencent blocking links to its apps and Tencent’s counterclaims of ByteDance infringing on its copyrighted content.

    In a now-deleted 2021 article, ByteDance accused Tencent of preventing more than 49 million users from sharing Douyin links on Tencent’s messaging apps WeChat and QQ.

    Blocking content from competitors has been a notorious and long-standing practice among internet giants, leading to a web of restrictions within their respective ecosystems. This even caught the attention of regulatory authorities, prompting a directive in 2021 for platforms to dismantle such barriers.

    In the wake of heightened regulatory pressure, major internet companies, including Tencent, initiated key reforms. For instance, Tencent now allows WeChat users direct access to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform.

    Editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: VCG)