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TikTok parent company ByteDance reportedly downsizes games division

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has reportedly laid off hundreds of employees from two video game studios at locations in China.

According to a South China Morning Post report (courtesy of GamesIndustry.biz), people familiar with the matter said the Beijing-based social media company has downsized game development jobs at Shanghai’s Wushuang Studio by rendering them redundant or transferring employees internally after 101 Studio shut down in June. They also claim that it has also cut off game development jobs at Jianang Studio in Hangzhou, though there was no word if the employees affected went through similar avenues at Wushuang.

Sources said that ByteDance’s gaming department will maintain its operations at its Shanghai office. However, it will focus on supporting game titles that have already launched.

Reports of the layoffs come over three months after TikTok began investing in video games, testing them on young audiences in Vietnam and placing minigames in the app in an effort to diversify its revenue streams. Last February, ByteDance launched a stand-alone website for its flagship gaming studio Nuverse, which already has several games in its portfolio, including One Piece: Blood Routes.

Despite ByteDance’s heavy investment in the gaming industry, reports of redundancies and transfers come amid woes wrought by the Chinese government’s crackdown on video games. The censors already scrutinize every detail in games presented to them, from their plot down to the characters’ outfits — as they have done with Genshin Impact — to ensure that the content doesn’t offend the country’s culture. They are now going so far as to reduce the number of new game licenses they issue, leaving developers concerned that some of their projects will never see the light of day.

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