Trump on Tencent ban: What does it mean for Riot, Epic Games?

Trump on Tencent ban: What does it mean for Riot, Epic Games?

POTUS Donald Trump makes headlines today as he signs on an executive order supposedly banning TikTok and WeChat, but may have unknowingly caused confusion for gaming giants such as Riot Games and Epic Games, among others.

Trump signed two separate executive orders recently, per reports. One was for the heavily controversial mobile application owned by ByteDance, TikTok, and the other was for an app owned by Tencent.

The ban on TikTok has been wildly discussed over the past few months. Trump officially sealing the ban with an E.O. did not come to a complete surprise to the public.

However, the public was caught off guard with the President’s separate strike on Tencent, citing the mobile social media application, WeChat.

How was Tencent involved?

Copies of the order both for TikTok and WeChat was uploaded on Twitter by known reporter Andrew Feinberg. An excerpt on the order for WeChat reads:

“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party to access Americans’ personal and proprietary information. In addition, the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives.”

Furthermore, Section 1 (a) of the order entails that “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.ka. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity[…]”

The absence of more detailed elaboration to the term “subsidiary” of Tencent may have caused mass confusion as the Chinese conglomerate is also heavily invested in the U.S. gaming industry.

U.S. gaming firms that are subsidiaries of Tencent

Tencent is widely known for its influence on the gaming industry. Rod Breslau enumerated on Twitter the companies that Tencent has shares in, which includes a number of the biggest names in the gaming realm, such as Riot Games, Epic Games, Supercell, Activision Blizzard, and Ubisoft.

Accordingly, Breslau notes that Trump may have unknowingly attempted to ban the “financial payments” to the mentioned concerned companies. This also included famed and highly profitable video games such as League of Legends, Valorantand Fortnite. 

Kotaku highlights that Epic Games may not feel a big impact, as Tencent only has 40% stakes on the Fortnite makers. However, this may not be the case for Riot Games as reports confer that 100% of its shares are owned by Tencent.

Nevertheless, a representative from the White House clarified this issue through The Los Angeles Times that the said order will only affect or block “transactions related to WeChat,” and excludes those “involving other Tencent holdings.”


Featured image courtesy of Tencent 腾讯/Twitter



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