Chinese tech giant Tencent announced on Wednesday that it will close a gamer-focused accelerator service that allows Chinese gamers access to overseas games. Due to “an adjustment in business operation strategy,” Tencent’s accelerator service will only support domestic games from June onwards.

Why it matters: This move by Tencent has caused players to worry that accelerator services for overseas games may soon become inaccessible in mainland China.

  • It is difficult for Chinese players to play overseas Player-versus-Player (PVP) titles like the popular Apex Legends and PUBG: Battlegrounds without accelerator services. These games are popular among Chinese players. For example, more than 1.4 million comments on PUBG: Battlegrounds are in Chinese-language, a sign of wide popularity. Thus, major gaming companies Tencent and NetEase have traditionally offered accelerator services to users. 
  • Many popular overseas games are unable to operate in China without a gaming license and a local operation company, making it difficult for Chinese players to enjoy these games due to network issues. 

Details: Tencent announced that its accelerator service called Tencent Jiasuqi will undergo a major update and be renamed Tencent Gaming Assistant. The service will no longer offer users access to overseas gaming networks. Instead, Tencent will offer refunds to users who have already paid for Tencent Jiasuqi. 

  • Due to network blocks and the physical distance between Chinese players’ devices and overseas host servers, it is difficult for Chinese players to play video games with foreign players. Tencent Jiasuqi has allowed players to bypass these blocks and build a steady virtual private network.
  • One Chinese Apex Legends player told TechNode that the suspension of Tencent’s accelerator service for overseas gaming will greatly limit their gameplay experience. While PVP games with servers in Hong Kong and Taiwan will still be available for users, titles in other regions outside of China will be completely unavailable. 
  • The player also noted that NetEase’s UU Jiasuqi is one prominent alternative that is still in operation.

Context: There are over 100 gaming network accelerators in China for players, but many have less tech stability than Tencent’s and NetEase’s services.

  • To enter the Chinese market, foreign gaming firms are required to cooperate with local Chinese operators, and each game must have a gaming license from China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA). However, the NPPA has not issued any licenses for overseas games in more than nine months.
  • Playing games directly from overseas platforms is still a gray area for Chinese players. Overseas gaming platforms like Steam are less accessible to Chinese gamers, with network “accelerating” services the only way to bypass these measures.

Ward Zhou is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. He covers stories about industry of digital content, hardware, and anything geek. Reach him via ward.zhou[a] or Twitter @zhounanyu.