Earlier this week, China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule. And Tencent, the country’s most powerful force in video gaming (and, lets be fair, probably the world’s most powerful, in terms of sheer financial clout), has been quick to take advantage. The company has debuted a homage to modern China that tugged on people’s patriotic sensibilities… and it’s become the most downloaded free game on Apple’s Chinses iOS store since its September 24 launch.
Tencent’s share price has appreciated by 3% over the past month
Source: Yahoo Finance
The game in question, Homeland Dream, was developed with the help of state-run news source People’s Daily. It’s an old-fashioned city builder (think Sim City, but with political slogans like “One Country, Two Systems” thrown in). And it’s wildly popular, even beating out Tencent’s own super-popular titles like Honour of Kings. The game might currently be free – but monetisation opportunities are always just around the corner… and, in any case, the platform could serve as a useful advertising tool to sell users on Tencent’s paid games.
But the real news over this game is not financial. Rather, it’s political. Tencent was hit harder, perhaps, than any other company in the world when Beijing froze video game approvals. Now, the company seems to have gotten authorities onboard with a new approach to gaming – one that is more palatable to the Communist Party’s ideology.
It’s not Tencent’s first foray into politicised gaming. Earlier this year, the country rejigged its Battle Royale-style shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds into a POC-friendly version: Peacekeeper Elite. This version lionises the Chinese military and, according to Niko Partners, could have generated sales of USD 1 billion by the end of the year.
Dominion holds Tencent in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.
Author: Theo Leworthy