December 2, 2022

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Tencent wins first major game approval as crackdown eases

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Tencent won approval for its first new major game title since Chinese regulators resumed licensing this year, in a sign that Beijing’s crackdown on the mobile entertainment industry is easing.

Its game “Metal Slug: Awakening” was among 70 domestic titles approved for November by the National Press and Publication Administration, the latest batch of licenses granted since regulators resumed the approval in April. Shares increased as much as 3.7% in Hong Kong trading.

Tencent did win approval in September for a minor health-education title under the name of an operator Nanjing Wangdian Technology. In a notable step forward this month, the tech giant has a major game listed under its name.  In an analyst call earlier this week, a Tencent executive expressed confidence in winning approval to release its major games soon.

Beijing’s tech crackdown, which ensnared sectors from e-commerce to fintech and even education over a tumultuous year, spread to online gaming in August 2021. Regulators introduced stringent measures on the sector, such as capping play time for minors to a mere three hours a week and imposed other requirements aimed at curbing addiction.

China’s media watchdog halted licensing and has since been more carefully reviewing new titles to determine whether they meet stricter criteria on content and child protection, slowing rollouts, Bloomberg News has reported.

NetEase also won approval for its title “Journey to the West” for November. Its stock rose as much as 8% in Hong Kong on Friday. The Hang Seng Tech index rose as much as 4.4%.

Shares of the Hangzhou-based firm plummeted Thursday as Blizzard Entertainment Inc. announced that both parties would end their 14-year partnership after January, depriving the Chinese firm of a slice of revenue and suspending service for some of the country’s most popular games.

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