Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700. HK) announced that it will shut down a service that allowed Chinese gamers to access outside platforms and play banned foreign games, signalling a tightening of compliance as Chinese regulators investigate the industry more carefully.
Late on Wednesday, China’s largest social and gaming company said that on May 31, it will update its games speed booster mobile and desktop apps to new versions that will only support games that operate in China. Users will no longer be able to play games from other countries in the updated editions.
The apps were first released by Tencent in 2018. Apps like this, which are also available from firms like NetEase Inc, operate as network acceleration solutions that assist consumers to improve their internet connections.
Unlike other nations, gamers in China are only permitted to play government-approved titles and are not permitted to play with foreigners on international servers. While local internet rates are often too slow for gamers to access such overseas games, they are not officially restricted by online limitations.
As a result, many Chinese gamers exploited such programmes to play unlicensed international games like Grand Theft Auto or Nintendo’s (7974.T) smash-hit Animal Crossing. Over time, the applications have also evolved into grey-area avenues for international game makers to reach consumers in the world’s largest gaming market.
Tencent would not elaborate on why it had decided to make the adjustments to the app.
Chinese gamers were disappointed by the move, but many felt it was unsurprising.
“Given the current state of affairs, this is to be expected. It is becoming increasingly difficult to be a gamer in China “On the microblogging site Weibo, a Chinese internet user wrote.
The announcement comes only days after China ended a nine-month moratorium on gambling licences. During this time, gaming businesses such as Tencent made significant changes to their business processes in order to comply with governmental demands.