China says unlikely to grant licenses for world's hottest video game

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s content regulator on Monday said it was unlikely to grant licenses for the world’s hottest video game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, as being too bloody and violent, thus effectively denying firms the opportunity to cash in.

The ban on the South Korea-made multiplayer game, whose players kill to be the last survivor, is the latest bid to cleanse internet content, after President Xi Jinping painted a vision of China as a culturally confident rejuvenated great power in a speech this month to the Communist Party Congress.

The game’s gladiator-like battle “severely deviates from the socialist core value and the Chinese traditional culture and moral rule,” the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association said in a statement on its website.

Its ethos also goes against the psychological and physical health of juvenile consumers, it added.

The association, grouped under the umbrella of China’s top content regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said SAPPRFT took a negative view of the game and others of the same kind, and any licenses for it were unlikely.

Reuters’ telephone calls to the games publisher, Bluehole Inc., to seek comment, went unanswered.

Leading Chinese gaming and social media company Tencent Holding Ltd., which hinted on its verified site on China’s Twitter-like Weibo that it might introduce the game on its WeGame platform, did not respond to requests for comment.

Still, Chinese gamers can access the game through overseas gaming platforms, though the association, in its statement on Monday, said Chinese companies should not seek to research, develop and import such games.

Gaming platforms and live streaming sites should not provide promotion and advertisement services to such games, it added.

Audiovisual content featuring topics ranging from drug addiction to homosexuality and incest should be restricted, a government-affiliated entity said in June.

China also bans a number of American television shows, such as “The Big Bang Theory” and “House of Cards”.

Reporting by Pei Li and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

China passed 250M 4G users in July, more than double the subscribers in the U.S.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook on a visit to China in 2014. Reuters / China Stringer Network

China’s 4G mobile users surpassed 250 million for the first time at the end of July, according to newly released data (link in Chinese) from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (hat tip to TechNode). If you throw 3G users into the mix, that number shoots up to a whopping 695 million users, with China’s total mobile user base now at 1.29 billion.

250 million is a milestone to be celebrated — it represents 4G penetration of nearly 20 percent, versus 40 percent (over 100 million) in the US at the end of 2014. Still, the figure belies a slightly shadier forecast: The report made clear that China’s mobile user growth rate so far this year has slowed to just a quarter of what it was over the same period in 2014.

Meanwhile, a separate report by the country’s state-run English-language newspaper China Daily over the weekend notes that the country has achieved this explosive growth in a mere 20 months since regulators first issued telcos 4G licenses. Though, somewhat confusingly, the article pegs the country’s 4G user base at 225 million, possibly in reference to June’s numbers rather than July’s.

Xinhua, the Chinese government’s official press agency, on Monday also had the 250 million number. The same report pointed out that the country’s three telecom giants — China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Mobile (currently the world’s largest telco) — “raked in a total of 75.3 billion yuan (about $ 11.8 billion) in the first half of 2015.” This was largely off the back of continued 4G growth.

Combined, 3G and 4G in the country now have a penetration of close to 54 percent among mobile users, according to the ministry’s report, and while the addition of new subscribers may be slowing, data consumption is through the roof. An average user in China now consumes around 330MB of data per month, almost twice as much (up 85 percent) as 12 months ago.

China’s International Telecommunication Union confirmed that it is actively developing 5G technology and industry, keeping up the blistering pace of development. But there has also been major reshuffling announced Monday at the very top levels of the country’s three telcos as Beijing aims to revamp state-owned firms.

4G growth aside, the broader challenges being faced by China’s volatile economy of late have rocked markets and tech stocks worldwide, leading Apple’s CEO Tim Cook to take the unusual step of issuing a statement to CNBC on Monday in an attempt to soothe investors. Apple, like an increasing number of smartphone makers, is heavily reliant (read: overexposed) on Chinese consumer demand to hit Wall Street’s targets.

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