Tencent withdraws Monster Hunter: World from WeGame five days after launch

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Monster Hunter: World, a popular monster hunting and killing game developed by Japanese studio Capcom, lived for five days after Tencent launched it on the company’s own platform WeGame on August 8.

According to an open statement WeGame released this morning, state regulators have canceled the game’s operating license in China due to a “large number of complaints.” Neither the statement or any state units clarified the source of the complaints.

The company closed sales of all versions of the game from 8:00 am this morning (August 13, 2018), including DLCs. Players who have already made purchases can claim an unconditional refund by 8:00 am, August 20. Players who wish to keep the game can still play, but WeGame will not be responsible for gaming experience after August 20.

WeGame also said in the statement that part of the game’s content does not meet regulatory requirements. The platform sincerely apologized for the inconvenience the issue has caused and promised to improve operation by better following regulation in future.

Monster Hunter Online, also on Tencent Games, has not announced any abnormal operation issues. The game is also organizing special Summer season hunting missions.

Monster Hunter: World is considered one of the best of the whole Monster Hunter series. Besides Tencent’s cooperation with Capcom, Chinese players can purchase the game from Steam, PlayStation, or Xbox. To encourage players to purchase WeGame’s simplified Chinese PC version, Tencent offered special discounts and promised it would keep the game’s original designs. Pre-order of the game in China hit 1 million.

TechNode checked China’s leading live streaming platform Huya, at 17:30 pm (local time) on August 13, 2018, 81 channels were broadcasting Monster Hunter: World and 38,593 viewers were watching. 14 channels were broadcasting Monster Hunter Online and 2,469 views were watching.

Monster Hunter search page in Huya

Channels highlighted the gaming platforms, and there were quite a few WeGame Monster Hunter: World broadcasting entries. This contradicts the statement which puts improper content as one reason why Tencent pulled the game out. Or, if what Tencent says is true, Huya is allowing the “improper” content to circulate due to huge audience demand.

Channels broadcasting Monster Hunter: World at Huya

Financial Times reports that a source blamed bureaucratic infighting as the real reason. But there is no public channel to confirm.

The gaming and finance markets are now worried about Tencent’s sustainable growth capability. Lacking core creativity, Tencent has been buying stakes in world-leading game studios including Ubisoft, Riot, Epic, and Supercell. The company also supports indie games with Tencent A.C.E Program to acquire emerging designs and early commercial design opportunities. As glories of its legendary game Honor of Kings fade, Tencent is seeing a slowing growth of related profits.

This time, Monster Hunter: World is not only a concern for Tencent’s revenue growth. A signal the case releases is clear: big companies are small in front of the country’s regulation, and China’s lucrative gaming market has its own rules and thresholds. The case may force companies hoping to enter China, either with local players or alone, to think twice about any unforeseen risks and hidden costs.