Pony Ma

According to Tencent’s boss, the gaming industry is in danger and is catching up in AI

Pony Ma, chairman and co-founder of Tencent Holdings, said the company’s video game business faces major challenges from competition, but the company is catching up in the development of artificial intelligence (AI).

Ma told Tencent’s annual meeting at a stadium in Shenzhen on Monday that the company was resting on its gaming laurels while its competitors had delivered new hits. Video games represent more than 30% of Tencent’s revenue.

Chinese media outlet Jiemian published parts of Ma’s speech online. A person with direct knowledge of the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed the contents.

Ma’s speech highlights concern over whether Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company and operator of China’s largest social network, WeChat, can defend its status as China’s top tech company at a time of increased competition and new technologies going on hiatus.

Tencent did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

“Gaming is our core business… But we faced major challenges last year,” Ma said. “We are at a loss because our competitors keep creating new products, making us feel helpless. ‘We have achieved nothing.’

Ma added that the new games released by Tencent have not performed as well as the company had hoped.

Ma’s comments come as Chinese game developers miHoYo and NetEase have eclipsed Tencent with hit titles like “Genshin Impact” and “Eggy Party.” While Tencent’s previous hits such as ‘Honor of Kings’ and ‘PUBG Mobile’ continue to generate strong sales, new products are falling short of expectations.

According to Ma, Tencent has overtaken AI. “We can finally keep pace with world-class companies. We are not among the first, but at least we are not far behind,” he said.

Ma said Tencent should now focus on integrating its ‘Hunyuan’ AI model into various business scenarios to increase efficiency instead of quickly implementing AI into products.

“In the short term, within a year or two, I don’t think there will be widespread adoption of native AI yet,” he said.

Another focus of Ma’s speech was the live broadcast of e-commerce. Tencent has tried in recent years to make WeChat more like ByteDance’s short video platform Douyin, which generates huge revenue from live e-commerce.

“WeChat is our most robust platform in terms of the number of daily users and its ecosystem. But it is already 12 years old. The big question for us now is how to find new shoots from the old tree that is WeChat,” Ma said.