ByteDance reportedly looking to sell Mobile Legends developer Moonton 

15 November 2023


Moonton, ByteDance, Mobile Legends
(ESI Illustration) Image credit: Moonton

ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, is reportedly talking to potential buyers for its subsidiary Moonton, the developer of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang.

According to a report by Reuters, at least one Saudi-based firm is among the companies that have discussed a Moonton sale with ByteDance. However, the report states that talks remain at an early stage, with no deal guaranteed.

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Esports Insider reached out to Moonton to enquire about rumoured sale discussions. A representative from Moonton replied, stating that it was unable to comment.

ByteDance acquired Moonton in 2021 in a deal that was believed to be valued at around $4bn (~£3.21bn). Whilst the company has developed other mobile-focused games, Moonton is most known as the developer of popular mobile MOBA Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, one of the largest mobile esports titles in the world. 

The game has a prominent esports ecosystem in Southeast Asia with franchised professional leagues operational in the Philippines and Indonesia. To quantify the popularity of the title’s esports scene, five of the top 10 highest viewed esports events of 2023 are MLBB tournaments, according to Esports Charts.

A Reuters source highlighted that ByteDance’s plan to potentially sell Moonton comes as the company looks to focus on its core business. Earlier this month, another ByteDance-owned company — virtual reality manufacturer headset Pico, underwent layoffs

Meanwhile, TikTok’s parent company also shuttered its game development studio, 101 Studio, last year. 

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The potential sale of Moonton comes at an interesting time with other game developers and publishers within the gaming space being acquired in 2023. 19 months after the acquisition was announced, Activision Blizzard was eventually purchased by tech goliath Microsoft for $68.7bn (~£50.5bn). 

Moreover, Saudi Arabian esports and gaming company Savvy Games Group (SGG) acquired mobile game developer Scopely for $4.9bn (~£3.9bn). Savvy has committed to spending $38bn in gaming and esports, including on the acquisition of game publishers.

Tom Daniels
Tom has been part of Esports Insider's team since October 2020 and is currently the platform's Editor. When not playing Football Manager, he enjoys reporting on the mobile esports scene as well as the betting sector.