Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company that also has plenty of hands in technology, social media, and traditional media, is closing down services that provide Chinese gamers with access to foreign games. The move is seen as a further tightening of regulations from a government that’s very concerned with limiting local access to games that have received regulatory approval.
Reuters reports Tencent will issue an update to its game speed boosting apps that will restrict access to games operating outside of China. Games that don’t have local operations will no longer be accessible from these apps, which have historically been used to provide Chinese gamers with access to foreign games.
As explained by reporter Josh Ye, foreign games aren’t explicitly blocked by China’s firewall, but local internet speeds are often too low to make online multiplayer games playable. Game speed boosting apps work similar to a VPN, allowing Chinese gamers access to games not approved by Chinese regulators such as GTA Online or Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The apps also provide gray market access for developers looking to sell their games to the world’s largest market.
The update is scheduled to hit Tencent’s mobile and desktop game speed boosting apps on May 31.
Tencent has seen itself seemingly targeted by Chinese regulators over the past few months. Tencent was suspended from launching new games in December of last year after ostensibly violating user data protection rights, although the specifics of this violation were never outlined.
China has only recently ended a freeze on new game approvals that began last summer. Analysts familiar with the matter reported 45 domestic games had been approved, sending stocks in Chinese gaming companies to new highs. That said, Tencent has announced it would slow hiring amidst pressure to cut the "size and budget" of upcoming games.
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