Tencent Holdings Ltd. said on Thursday that it would close a service that allowed Chinese users to access overseas platforms to play unapproved foreign games.
The move reflects tightening compliance as Beijing regulators scrutinize the industry closely.
China’s largest social and gaming firm will update its speed booster in mobile and desktop apps to new versions. This improvement would only support games operating in the country. Then, the new type will no longer allow users to access international titles.
Tencent initially launched the apps in 2018. They act as network acceleration tools that help users boost their internet speeds.
Chinese gamers can only play titles approved by the government. In addition, authorities prohibited users from playing with foreigners on international servers.
Subsequently, the officials do not explicitly block the games with online curbs. Regardless, the local internet speeds are generally too slow for accessing them.
In line with this, users use other applications to access unapproved content like Grand Theft Auto and Nintendo’s Animal Crossing. Over the years, the apps became grey-area channels for foreign developers to reach users in the world’s largest gaming market.
Meanwhile, Tencent declined to provide further details on why it had decided to make changes to the app.
Correspondingly, Chinese gamers greeted the move with dismay but cited that they were not surprised.
Last week, the tech giant said it would shut down its video game streaming platform Penguin Esports on June 07.
This decision came after Beijing halted a merger that could have made the company a significant player in the area.
Still, the firm continues to invest in areas like e-sports, but officials have also tightened regulations in the country. This conflict weighed on Tencent, which reported its slowest quarterly revenue growth last year.
China to end license freeze after pressing Tencent
Tencent’s latest move comes days after China ended a nine-month freeze on gaming licenses. This is after companies made significant adjustments to their business practices in compliance with regulatory requests.
Previously, the watchdog of the $47.00 billion video games market paused issuing publishing licenses, which are vital to monetizing games. This stoppage followed a crackdown that curbed game-playing time for minors.
In that period, Tencent had to remove English words from its game. To be compliant, it also avoided the color red and scrapped wordings such as headshots and death. At the same time, the studio delayed the title’s international launch.
The hold caused a profound economic impact in the country, where 14,000 video gaming-related firms closed. In a similar freeze in 2018, some projects opted to release their games overseas.