Tencent has won permission to distribute Nintendo’s Switch games console in China. Permission was granted by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Tencent’s hometown Guangdong province, according to a report by Reuters.
Initially, Tencent will only be allowed to release a test version of the “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” game. And it is unclear whether further permissions will be needed for the hardware.
Games consoles were banned in China for several years. And by the time that restrictions were lifted, China’s legion of games players had adopted PC format or were switching to playing on smart phones.
Nintendo’s Switch is billed as a hybrid, which might appeal in China. Nintendo describes it as “a gaming console you can play both at home and on-the-go,” and has reportedly sold some 32 million devices since launch two years ago.
The two companies have partnered before. Nintendo’s “Pokemon” and “Zelda” games have previous history in China. And Tencent has licensed its “Arena of Valor” game to Nintendo for gaming on Switch outside China.
The approval decision may be a further relief to Tencent, which along with other games companies last year endured several months with only a trickle of new games. Due to a change in the regulatory regime and growing concerns about consumer protection against excessive game play, China’s regulators cut the flow of games approvals.
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From December onwards, the games platforms began to receive approvals for new games. But the regulators have warned that they have a backlog of titles to examine.
Tencent shares reached their 2019 high at the end of last week, but they dropped by 1% on Thursday to HK$391.60. At that price the company has a market capitalization of $480 billion (HK$3.73 trillion).