A years-long feud between two of China’s biggest internet firms, ByteDance and Tencent, is finally thawing – and gaming fans are in for a treat because of it.
From January 21, Douyin creators will once again be allowed to livestream gameplay from Honor of Kings, Tencent Games’ hugely popular multiplayer online battle arena game and most successful title to date. This marks an end to the 5-year ban on the content that followed Tencent Games suing ByteDance for copyright infringement.
Tencent Games broke the happy news on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, on January 13, garnering an impressive 21,000 likes, 1716 comments, and 1244 shares as of January 15. To celebrate the reopening, Tencent Games is holding a week-long countdown event on the official Honor of Kings Douyin livestream channel, including an extended appearance from the most prominent Honor of Kings streamer Zhang Daxian.
The rift between ByteDance and Tencent Games began in 2016 when Tencent sued ByteDance, claiming 5.2 million RMB (731, 468 USD) in damages for copyright infringement and unfair competition. The court agreed that the posting of Tencent game footage on Douyin and other ByteDance-owned apps constituted copyright infringement and ordered the firm to hand over 600,000 RMB (84,400 USD) in compensation. After the ruling, gaming livestreamers were able to post Honor of Kings content only on Tencent-created platforms, such as Weishi, a Douyin-like app.
As well as reaching an agreement on livestreaming with Tencent, ByteDance is also currently in talks to sell its entire video game operations to the WeChat creator. ByteDance has failed to achieve returns on its investments in game development since establishing its dedicated games studio Nuverse in 2019 and now will likely focus on the huge market potential of its e-commerce venture TikTok Shop.