Colin Yao is the leader of Tencent’s TiMi Studio Group, the in-house game development arm of the world’s biggest gaming publisher. Yao’s team created Honor of Kings, one of the most successful (and lucrative) mobile games of all time and an ideal advertisement for what Tencent can do: Global publishers now entrust TiMi to create mobile versions of some of their most valuable titles, like Call of Duty: Mobile and Pokémon Unite.
Tencent’s grip on China’s vast gaming market is a key strength, but Yao also faces challenges from the country’s increasingly hostile regulatory environment. The government has restricted the gaming time of children (due to worries about addiction), slowed approvals of new games, and imposed stricter censorship.
In recent years, Yao has broadened TiMi’s reach outside of China. The studio now boasts offices in North America and has begun developing games for next-generation consoles. That’s a clear sign that Tencent is aiming for gamers in the West, where consoles are more popular than in China, where smartphone gaming is dominant. In 2021, Yao was also put in charge of QQ, a messaging app that predates (and now lags behind) Tencent’s own WeChat. Tencent is often seen as one of the leading companies in the race for the metaverse; merging gaming and social media under Yao has only furthered speculation about its plans.