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China Restarts Video Games Approvals, Boosts Tencent

Chinese industry regulators have restarted approvals of online video games. The industry had been in limbo since it emerged in summer that new game approvals had been halted in March.

The news had an immediate impact on Tencent, China’s largest private sector company. Its shares leaped 4.5% to HK$315.20. Tencent is such a large component of the Hong Kong stock market that it singlehandedly changed the direction of the Hang Seng Index.

The announcement was made Friday morning by Feng Shixin, a deputy head in the Communist Party Propaganda Department. He said that a list of titles has been approved and will shortly receive license numbers. He did not specify how many new titles had received the green light, but acknowledged that there exists a backlog of games awaiting the go-ahead.

The crackdown appears to have been prompted largely by consumer protection concerns, rather than ideological reasons. It followed the initial restrictions – which left some companies unable to operate the paid-for versions of some games – with proposals for age restrictions and moves to limit the amount of time spent on line. Companies quickly introduced voluntary measures to prevent the young playing for too long.

News of the approvals slowdown in July sent Tencent shares on a long nosedive, and a $150 billion loss of value. At Friday’s closing share price, Tencent has a market capitalization of $387 billion, ahead of Alibaba which is valued at $350 billion.

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