ByteDance acquires Mobile Legends publisher Moonton at a reported $4bn valuation

Chinese technology company and TikTok’s owner ByteDance has reportedly acquired Mobile Legends: Bang Bang developer and publisher Moonton.

The acquisition, which is believed to be valued to be around $4bn, has been made through ByteDance’s video games unit Nuverse, according to Reuters.

M2 World Championship 2021
Image credit: Moonton

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ByteDance said in a statement: “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.”

It was also reported by the news agency that Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent also bid to acquire Moonton, however, the offer was matched by ByteDance last week. 

According to a Reuters source, Moonton CEO Yuan Jing has stated, via an internal memo, that the company will operate as an independent entity from ByteDance if the acquisition is successful.

Moonton is widely known across the world as the publishers of the popular Mobile Legends franchise, particularly Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. The title has seen a huge spike in popularity over the last few years with the title’s Indoniasan esports league garnering a peak viewership of over 600,000 in February this year.

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According to Esports Charts, the 2020 M2 World Championships Grand Final between Burmese Ghouls and Bren Esports recorded a peak viewership of over 3m. Brands such as Samsung, Razer, Secretlab, and Singtel have previously partnered with Mobile Legends’ esports competitions.

Nuverse was established in 2019 and has published titles such as Strike Royale, Eden no Tobira, and Arena of Evolution: Red Tides, among others. Last month, ByteDance’s gaming unit launched its official website.

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Esports Insider says: If the reports are true, which seems highly likely, then this is a huge moment in the history of mobile esports. ByteDance has clearly seen potential in Moonton and, as a result, has paid a substantial amount to secure the publisher. ByteDance’s latest involvement in esports, could be a defining moment for Moonton and the industry.