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.
list of game and tech companies Tencent has stake in:
Riot Games (100%)
Epic Games (40%)
Grinding Gear Games
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) August 7, 2020
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.