The Chinese government has ordered Tencent not to update any of its existing apps or launch any new ones in mainland China. The harsh punishment came from Beijing today and appears to apply for an indefinite length of time.
Why has China ordered Tencent not to update apps?
This news comes to us via the South China Morning Post by way of its reporter Josh Ye on Twitter. According to Ye and the SCMP, the Chinese government describes the order as a "temporary administrative guidance". It's an extremely harsh order; from now until a time decreed by Beijing, Tencent can't implement any kind of updates to any of its apps, nor can it upload any new ones to any storefronts. Tencent currently has over 70 apps live on Chinese app stores and more than 100 mobile games published by its gaming wing Tencent Mobile Games, including Honor of Kings, the first mobile game to break 10 billion dollars worldwide.
For its part, the Chinese government hasn't provided any information as to why it's imposed this ban on Tencent. The gaming giant says it's cooperating with the government to "ensure regulatory compliance", too. It's worth noting that Tencent apps are still available to download; while they won't be getting any updates, you can still play Honor of Kings in China, as well as any other Tencent title. However, if there are any game-breaking bugs present in any of them, it looks like they'll be there for the foreseeable future.
Does this ban come at a bad time for Tencent?
Tencent is currently sitting pretty as the gaming world's biggest publisher. It owns stakes in a huge amount of companies, including a majority stake in League of Legends developer Riot Games, as well as stakes in Epic Games and indie developers like Ninjala studio Soleil. With major new projects on the horizon, like an Age of Empires mobile game and a new Honor of Kings action RPG, the increased scrutiny on Chinese gaming companies from Beijing is likely to be very frustrating indeed to Tencent.
Despite rapid expansion, the Chinese government is looking much more closely at its big tech sector as premier Xi Jinping looks to crack down on what he perceives as unfettered capitalism. Earlier this year, Tencent stock plummeted after the government-affiliated Xinhua News Agency described gaming as "spiritual opium". This is unlikely to affect Tencent's Western operations too much, but what happens to the world's biggest gaming publisher could well have a knock-on effect. It looks like things are going to get more difficult for Tencent going forward. We'll bring you more on this, including a potential timeline for the lifting of this ban, as soon as we get it.
How do you feel about this Tencent app crackdown? Let us know in the comments below!