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Tencent games revenues rose to $27 billion in 2021

Despite slowest quarterly growth since 2004, world's largest games firm sees overall boost in sales and profit

At a glance:

  • Full-year games revenues up to $27 billion, accounting for 31% of $87.9 billion total revenues
  • International games show largest growth, but domestic games still lead at $20.2 billion in 2021
  • Time spent by young people playing games down 88% year-on-year due to Chinese government restrictions and Tencent's related measures

Chinese megacorp Tencent has released its full-year financial results, showing total revenues from its games businesses have risen to RMB 174.3 billion ($27 billion).

Domestic games accounted for 23% of this at RMB 128.8 billion ($20.2 billion), showing year-on-year growth of 6%.

While it only accounted for 8% of total games revenues, international games showed the strongest growth: up 31% year-on-year to RMB 45.5 billion ($7.1 billion).

Combined, video games account for 31% of total revenues taken across all of Tencent's businesses last year, which was reported at RMB 560.1 billion ($87.9 billion) -- up 16% year-on-year.

Operating profit came in at RMB 159.5 billion ($25 billion, up 7%), while full-year profit held steady at RMB 127.9 billion ($20.1 billion, up 1%).

Tencent cited flagship title Honor of Kings as a particularly strong source of revenue, as well as new launches League of Legends: Wild Rift and Fight of the Golden Spatula. These partly offset declines in revenue seen by Moonlight Blade Mobile and Peacekeeper Elite, the repurposed PUBG Mobile themed around the Chinese military.

The company also gave insight into the effect of various measures it has taken to reduce the time young people spend playing its games, driven in no small part by new government regulations brought in last year.

Total playing time for minors was down 88% year-on-year, meaning young people accounted for 0.9% of the total time spent playing Tencent's domestic games.

Total grossing receipts from minors was down 73% year-on-year, accounting for 1.5% of all grossing receipts from domestic games.

Elsewhere, Tencent claimed it developed and/or operated five of the ten most played mobile games in the world last year, and highlighted League of Legends-based Netflix animated series as Arcane as another key success for its games business. It is currently looking into developing new games, animated series and movies based on Honor of Kings.

Another highlight was Pokemon Unite, which passed 50 million downloads by December 2021.

Tencent also reported its results for the three months ended December 31, 2021, the fourth and final quarter of its fiscal year.

Total revenues rose 8% year-on-year to RMB 144.2 billion ($22.6 billion), with Reuters reporting this is the slowest quarterly growth since the company went public in 2004.

This is partly down to decreases in operating profit -- down 13% to RMB 33.2 billion ($5.2 billion) -- and quarterly profit -- down 25% to RMB 25.8 billion ($4 billion).

Domestic games revenues for the quarter remained relatively flat at RMB29.6 billion ($4.6 billion, up 1% year-on-year).

Meanwhile, international games revenues rose 34% to RMB 13.2 billion ($2.1 billion). This was attributed partly to the launch of new content for Valorant and Clash Royale.

"2021 was a challenging year, in which we embraced changes and implemented certain measures that reinforced the Company's long-term sustainability, but had the effect of slowing our revenue growth," said chairman and CEO Ma Huateng.

"Despite financial headwinds, we continued to make strategic headway, including driving widespread adoption of our enterprise software and productivity tools, increasing content creation and consumption in our video accounts, and expanding our international games business."

Tencent owns several major games businesses around the world, including Riot Games, Sumo Group, Turtle Rock Studios, Sharkmob, Funcom, Wake Up Interactive, and Leyou (which in turn owns Athlon Games, Digital Extremes and Splash Damage).

It also holds stakes in Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Supercell, Roblox, Epic Games, Netmarble, Paradox Interactive, Remedy Entertainment, Dontnod Entertainment, Bloober Team and Playtonic Games.

Most recently, it became a majority investor in Rime developer Tequila Works, took minority stakes in Riffraff Games (formerly Studio MayDay) and Offworld Industries, and acquired 1C Entertainment and Improbable's Inflexion studio.

At the tail end of last year, it launched a new publishing label, Level Infinite.

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James Batchelor


James Batchelor is Editor-in-Chief at GamesIndustry.biz. He has been a B2B journalist since 2006, and an author since he knew what one was