ByteDance Restructures Gaming Unit Nuverse, Appoints Veteran Zhang Yunfan as CEO, Refocuses on “Fun Games”

ByteDance Mobile Legends Bang Bang

ByteDance, the Chinese tech giant behind TikTok, has appointed Zhang Yunfan as the new CEO of its gaming unit, Nuverse.

This move comes just weeks after when the company sold its third developer studio, C4Games studio, known for the mobile title Red Alert Online, to a Tencent Holdings-backed company, China Ruyi Holdings.

Before that, in MarchTencent’s LightSpeed Studios took over a video game project in Shenzhen, which was formerly managed by ByteDance’s Gravity Studio, as well as an open-world project from ByteDance’s Jiangnan Studio in Hangzhou.

That is because, last November, ByteDance announced a significant restructuring of its video game business, leading to shutting down most unreleased titles and selling some projects to other companies.

Reports suggested job cuts at Nuverse and potential sales of games like the MMORPG Crystal of Atlan and shooter Earth: Revival.

Even more shocking news was the consideration to sell Moonton, the developer behind the popular multiplayer online battle arena title, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, which ByteDance acquired for a staggering $4 billion in 2021.

Reason? Despite investing around 30 billion yuan ($4.2 billion) in various gaming M&A deals between 2019 and 2022, the company seemed unhappy with its video game division’s performance.

This led to speculation that ByteDance might be retreating from the gaming industry and only focusing on its core business – TikTok.

However, contrary to these reports, an internal letter from Zhang and Hua Wei, the head of ByteDance’s HR department (obtained by GameLook), indicates that the company is not planning to shut down its gaming business anytime soon.

Instead, it is entering a “second phase” focused on creating “fun games” for users.

The company “is” restructuring its video game division, but aiming to build a more centralized management structure and to focus on long-term growth.

Key assets like Moonton, Crystal of Atlan, and Earth: Revival will remain with ByteDance (not going anywhere for now).

Moreover, Nuverse will continue to be the publisher of the popular card game Marvel Snap.

This “selective approach” suggests that ByteDance isn’t giving up on gaming but rather refining its portfolio to focus on titles with the most potential.

Who is Zhang Yunfan?

Zhang Yunfan is not a newcomer to the gaming industry. With a career spanning over two decades, he brings a wealth of experience to his new role at Nuverse.

From 2003 to 2013, Zhang worked at NetEase, one of China’s leading gaming companies.

Later, he served as COO and president of game business at Perfect World, where he oversaw the company’s mobile game division.

His recent appointment as the head of Moonton Technology, the studio behind the popular MOBA game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, further solidifies his credentials.

This strategic move by ByteDance suggests a serious commitment to its gaming unit, as they bring in a seasoned executive with a proven track record in the industry.

Source: Reuters

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