If you’ve been following the gaming industry for a while, you probably remember the big “freezes” that the Chinese government placed on new game approvals in the country back in 2018 and 2019. The 2018 freeze was particularly brutal as it went on for the better part of a year and caused the likes of Tencent to implement draconian anti-addiction measures and pull back its marketing budget.
Well, welcome to another round here in 2021, though this latest assault on the video game industry in the region isn’t precisely a freeze, just a “slow down” for approvals, but it’s having the same effect, as Tencent and Netease alone lost over $60B US in value at one point this week on the news. (It’s recovered slightly since.) Regulators apparently demanded that the companies focus less on profit and more on curbing addiction in minors.
“The authorities ordered the enterprises and platforms to tighten examination of the contents of their games,” Chinese state media declared, and just in case it wasn’t entirely clear what this is all really about, it added a few dog whistles: “Obscene and violent content and those breeding unhealthy tendencies, such as money-worship and effeminacy, should be removed.”
Bloomberg says that Tencent hasn’t seen a stock decline so sharply since July, ahead of the “spiritual opium” rhetoric from the same state-run news agency and the government crackdown on youth gaming.