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Tencent speeds up WeChat mobile games bid

Chinese tech giant says it is committed to developing games for WeChat, following a 228.4 percent year-on-year climb in its active monthly user base to 194 million.
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Written by Cyrus Lee on

Tencent's free instant messaging app for mobile devices, WeChat, saw the number of its active monthly users jump to 194 million in the first quarter of 2013, up 23.1 percent from the previous three months and a whopping 228.4 percent from the same period last year.

During its teleconference Wednesday to announce its first quarter 2013 results, the company said net income rose 37.1 percent to 4.04 billion yuan (US$651 million) over the same period in 2012. Revenue stood at 13.6 billion yuan (US$2.19 billion), translating into an average daily income of nearly 150 million yuan (US$24.18 million).

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"We will try to launch a broad range of games on WeChat on the mobile terminal," said Tencent's president Liu Zhiping during the conference.

Barclays analyst estimates the total number of WeChat users will reach at least 400 million by the end of 2013 and the company is likely to earn up to 2.16 billion yuan (US$348 million) from WeChat integrated games.

Liu also confirmed the total number of overseas WeChat users have exceeded 40 million. However, Tencent will not consider commercializing Wechat in foreign markets until the business model has been tested successfully in its domestic Chinese market, said Liu, according to a Sina News report.

In April 2012, Tencent acquired 14 percent stake of Korean mobile communication app, KakaoTalk.The deal, worth US$64 million, indicates WeChat's commitment in developing its own mobile games platform which is likely to model after KakaoTalk's Game Center, an analyst told Sohu news in an earlier report.

Major Chinese telcos have protested against the popularity of WeChat which they say consumed high bandwidth. The popularity of the messaging app also has severely eroded their SMS, MMS, and voice calls revenue. Some Chinese top officials also declared publicly WeChat services might not be allowed to be offered for free in the future. At the same time, though, Tencent also said it would not charge users for basic WeChat services.

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