Tencent play the AI card to brush off gaming worries

At their annual meeting this week CEO Pony Ma recognised increased gaming competition but praised AI advances

Tencent play the AI card to brush off gaming worries

Just when you may have been pondering Chinese giant Tencent's next move in games and where the next bank of profits may roll in from, Pony Ma, chief executive and co-founder of Tencent has a plan. For while the business of games has been getting harder for the company thanks to increased competition and Chinese government intrusion, AI is - once again - going to save the day and keep the cash registers ringing.

Speaking at Tencent's annual meeting in a stadium in Shenzhen, China earlier this week, Ma observed that the company has been on the back foot while competitors have stolen its lunch. News of the comments came via leaks to Chinese media outlet Jiemian.

As the world’s biggest gaming company and the owner of China’s biggest social network WeChat, video games account for more than 30% of Tencent’s revenue.

“Gaming is our flagship business...But in the past year, we have faced significant challenges,” Ma said according to Reuters, “We have found ourselves at a loss, as our competitors continue to produce new products, leaving us feeling having achieved nothing.”

Ma's comments come as aging high earners such as Honor of Kings and PUBG Mobile have been eclipsed by games from rival companies such as miHoYo's Genshin Impact and Honkai: Star Rail, and Eggy Party from NetEase.

And the good news?

But his comments weren't all doom and gloom. With the magic dust of AI giving everything an uplift, Ma was keen to promote Tencent's growth in the area commenting that “We can finally follow the pace of the first-tier companies. We don’t count ourselves as the most leading but at least we are not too behind.

“In the short term, within the next one or two years, I feel like there will not be a massive, AI-native application yet."

Rather than working up it's own outward-facing AI products the company is working to integrate its own Hunyuan AI model into different aspects of its own business in order to boost efficiency.

And as for the ongoing battle between Tencent's own WeChat and ByteDance's Douyin (aka TikTok)? “WeChat is our most robust platform regarding daily user amount and its ecosystem. But it is 12 years of age," observed Ma. "Now how we can find new sprouts from the old tree that is WeChat is the big question for us."

Editor -

Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment media brands in the world. He's interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of videogames, music, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. Yup, he said garden design… He’s the ex-Editor of PSM2, PSM3, GamesMaster and Future Music, ex-Deputy Editor of The Official PlayStation Magazine and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Rhythm, Computer Music and more. He hates talking about himself.