Tencent CEO Pony Ma painted a stark picture about the company’s performance in gaming over the past year during a staff briefing, warning it faces significant challenges as competitors introduce popular titles while its new releases had not lived up to expectation.

Speaking at its annual staff meeting, he expressed confidence in the company’s long-term development.

But he said as the market leader in gaming “we seem to be resting our on laurels”.

“New game companies have emerged in an endless stream.”

Taking domestic games to international markets is a large growth opportunity, he said, adding Tencent is shifting to a horizontal approach to hardware and software development from its past vertical focus.

The chief said it established a reputation for strong mobile gaming R&D in the past and is pushing to reignite its fighting spirit, calling on employees to “go all out” and work to integrate all business units to develop products and services together.

Speaking about its AI development, he acknowledged Tencent is not “the most advanced but we’re not too far behind”.

The company was hit by an aggressive crackdown on gaming in 2021, as authorities introduced restrictions to curb children’s screen time and combat addiction. Approvals on new titles also were halted for nearly a year, with the regulator beginning to issue new licences in early 2023.

In 2023, TikTok parent ByteDance announced it would discontinue development of most new games and sell its current portfolio as it cuts 1,000 jobs at its main gaming studio.