New executive order could ban US transactions with Tencent – potentially bad news for gaming [Updated]

    
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New executive order could ban US transactions with Tencent – potentially bad news for gaming [Updated]

File this one under “I was about to go to sleep when the internet erupted in an absolute panic over Tencent”: Late this evening, the sitting US president issued an executive order that effectively bans WeChat and its parent company from transactions with people in the United States. WeChat’s parent company, of course, is Tencent, one of the biggest companies in the world and one gamers know very well. The (accidentally?) overly broad way the EO is worded, however, ensures that the government bans a lot more than just WeChat. Here’s the clip from the EO:

“The following actions shall be prohibited beginning 45 days after the date of this order, to the extent permitted under applicable law: any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order.”

Obviously such a ban would be devastating to the gaming industry both in China and the rest of the world, since Tencent either owns outright or owns major stakes in an absurd list of gaming studios; most notably, it owns Riot Games (League of Legends, Valorant), but it also has stakes in Epic Games (Fortnite) and Bluehole (PUBG). Closer to home in MMO land, it also owns Funcom (Conan Exiles, Secret World), the majority of Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile), and slices of everything from Activision-Blizzard and Frontier and Kakao to services gamers use like Reddit and Discord.

Of course, whether this order actually manages to take effect as written or even at all given the gargantuan stakes and stakeholders involved is another story entirely, one we suspect we’ll be covering quite a bit over the next 45 days if this actually goes anywhere other than the dumpster.

Source: EO, Engadget. Thank, Fisty and Phubarrh and Warcabbit!
Update
The administration has apparently confirmed to multiple outlets – here’s the one from the LA Times – that the EO will not affect Tencent’s other holdings, like its games studios. That’s obviously not what the EO actually says, however, and we presume it will need amending.

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Ken from Chicago

A key point that’s actually written into the order is that the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, gets to decide in 45 days (from the signing of the Executive Order, yesterday, I believe) what exactly are the “transacations” that will be banned. So, technically, they are able to say the order might not apply to Tencent’s games.

Daily Crunch: Trump bans transactions with ByteDance and Tencent

Now I’m no lawyertician. My law knowledge is limited to 40-plus years of watching LA Law, Ally McBeal, Swift Justice, Matlock, Perry Mason, The Firm, A Time To Kill, Absence of Malice, And Justice For All, The Client, A Civil Action, Erin Brockovich, Boston Legal, The Practice, Star Trek “The Menagerie”, Star Trek:TNG “A Measure of a Man” and “Drumhead”, Equal Justice, Bluff City Law and, of course, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Law & Order Criminal Intent, Law & Order LA (and the various cop show or drama shows or comedies that have episodes featuring trials). I don’t know if the Secretary may LATER add those games to be banned or if it’s a one-time deal. Speak now or forever hold your peace.

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Khrome

On one hand, Trump’s an idiot.

On the other, most of these companies are idiots for selling such huge stakes to Tencent.

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Sarah Cushaway

Trump’s just trying to act tough. Like most every other EO he signs, it’ll be shot down in court and business as usual.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Sloppy work on the admin’s part not bothering to ascertain what all is impacted, not just the target.

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Tee Parsley

So, standard operating procedure, you’re saying?

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Bryan Turner

If I were these companies listed in the executive order I’d attempt to buy out a controlling share in Twitter just to piss Trump off, then in 45 days he can nerd rage because Twitter would be banned as well.

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Bryan Turner

On a side note Dr Disrespect is now live on You Tube.

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Adam Russell

I can see banning tiktok/wechat from use by government employees, but what is the point of banning kids from using it? Afraid China might steal our dance moves?

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Bryan Correll

It’s a long range plan. Some of kids putting out tiktoks will, in the future, have powerful business or government positions and the video evidence of their behavior as teens can be used to blackmail them.

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Bruno Brito

Isn’t he mad because of something about his rally went wrong and he was looking for a scapegoat? I didn’t get the memo on this specific shitshow.

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Croquantes

Also a woman is suing Trump for rape and her case has been allowed to proceed. Apparently she still has the semen-covered dress Trump raped her in and he’s spooked.

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Croquantes

Some of those kids using TikTok are voters, or worse, BLACK voters.

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treehuggerhannah

I still don’t get what specifically people are prohibited from doing, how it will be enforced, and what the consequences are for non-compliance?

It doesn’t affect me personally as long as it doesn’t involve MMOs, I don’t use TikTok or WeChat and don’t plan to, but that’s why the whole thing seems so half-baked and arbitrary.

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Braud

I figured I would just go ahead and throw this bit of information in the pot. China already has a fair amount of sites in the US blocked by way of the internet. I’m talking about Facebook, Google, etc. They provide their own alternatives like WeChat. I learned this from some Chinese students that worked for me when asked why they didn’t have Facebook. I ended up getting WeChat to keep up with them. And i believe this is through IP blocks so someone would have to get onto a VPN to access Facebook in China.

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Fisty

Its been that way a long time

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Ashfyn Ninegold

The difference is that we’re supposedly a free market (capitalism), while China is a a managed authoritarian (communist) market.

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Jeremy Barnes

turns out that a lot of people who espouse vehement hate about Communism actually…really like a lot about it.

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Bruno Brito

Communism/Socialism theory is anything but simple. It’s actually really complex. Most of the socialist experiments we had were halted the moment that they became dictatorships with the focus on one person. It didn’t help that most of the dictators were also completely batshit and overall disgusting human beings ( Stalin was a common thug before joining the Lenin revolution. He also wasn’t Lenin’s favourite but he simply was opportunistic enough ).

Most developed countries realized by now that having social security does wonders for your citizenry. Overall happy people makes for good workers.

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Robert Mann

This is merely a tiny portion of the world acting against China’s espionage, economic warfare, and aggressive “you shall do it our way” tactics on the world stage.

It’s been a long time coming, with multiple attempts to curtail the bad behaviors (that were working to some extent before the new ‘god-emperor’ and cronies took full power). Ignore international laws and treaties for too long, and treat everyone else poorly for too long, and the result is that everyone is against you.

That’s where China sits. Heck, they even push that stuff in online gaming. The CCP has been noted to allow exemptions from policies, pay people, and otherwise promote attempts to force gamers from other nations to ‘submit’ in online games.

That attitude has come back upon them, not just in India and the U.S., but around the globe. There’s a very short list of nations that have no sanctions against China, and the list that isn’t considering bans or further actions is even shorter…

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Ashfyn Ninegold

There’s considerable reason to be concerned about China technology/security reach. They have always ignored international laws, such as copyright laws and patent laws.

However, this bit of theatre by the WH has nothing to do with that actuality and is just (go ahead and moderate me if this is too political a statement) governing by grievance.

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Grimjakk

I think it’s just one more point of pressure that they’re applying. None of this is happening in a vacuum. This just catches our attention because of how it might impact our games.

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Tee Parsley

While that’s not an unreasonable take on it, I’m pretty sure the USA is dang familiar with “espionage, economic warfare, and aggressive “you shall do it our way” tactics on the world stage.” A very Hollywood feel to the ‘when we do it, it’s okay, ’cause we’re the good guys.’

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Adam Russell

So, what if I do transact with them anyway? Is there a legal penalty for violating an EO?

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Grimjakk

Ask the gym owner who just got arrested for not enforcing the Florida governor’s mandatory mask EO… but that’s another topic. ;)