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Tencent sued over blockbuster video game ‘Honor of Kings’

Tencent shares were down 3.6% on Tuesday, and the long-term impact is tipped to be serious. Photo: Reuters

Children’s group slams ‘vulgar’ and ‘violent’ title as Chinese tech giant ramps up its entertainment offerings

(AF) Chinese tech giant Tencent has been sued over one of its biggest video gaming franchises, which a children’s advocacy group alleges is harmful and addictive.

The Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Centre announced on Tuesday that it has filed a civil lawsuit in China.

The suit’s target, Tencent’s hugely popular Honor of Kings game, has faced years of scrutiny by parents and the state media over concerns of gaming addiction.

The non-governmental organisation argues that the recommended 12-year-old minimum age is far too low due to “violent” and “vulgar” content in the game, which the group argued has left many children “addicted”.

The court did not indicate what follow-up would be given to the suit, which came as China marked its Children’s Day and as regulators ramp up scrutiny, particularly of the country’s high-flying tech firms.

Honor of Kings is a multiplayer online battle game that is highly lucrative for Tencent. In 2020, it exceeded 100 million daily active users.

Tencent, which also owns the WeChat application, last year stepped up its anti-addiction measures for minors by limiting the time and money they can spend on Honor of Kings.


The suit comes just two weeks after Tencent held its annual gaming event, one of the highlights of the virtual universe in China.

More than 17 million gamers participated in a Fortnite music contest, while more than 1 billion hours were collectively spent in a League of Legends tournament.

Tencent argues that online games can add value to education, culture, science and healthcare.

Analysts say Tencent is creating synergies between its online content and offline partners. “For example, Happy Poker partners with Burger King and QQ Speed will partner with Lamborghini,” Thomas Chong, Barclays equity analyst, noted.

Within Honor of Kings, Tencent has lured companies such as Burberry to the in-game design.

“This collaboration is an opportunity for us to reach an established gaming community and expand Burberry’s universe,” said Camille Lechanoine, a Burberry spokesperson.

Tencent expects to broaden its gaming offerings through 100 titles to be launched in Tencent Cloud.

With reporting by Agence France-Presse


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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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