Tencent games revenue in focus after China blocks "Monster Hunter: World"

BEIJING/HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd saw its stock tumble on Tuesday, wiping out around $15 billion in its market value, amid concern of a blow to its video game revenue after regulators blocked the sale of one of its blockbuster titles.

A Tencent sign is seen during the fourth World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, December 4, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

Analysts had widely expected “Monster Hunter: World” to be one of 2018’s biggest hits for Tencent, which licensed the game from Japan’s Capcom Co Ltd to sell on its WeGame platform.

However the game, where players hunt fearsome creatures, disappeared from the platform on Monday, days after its Aug. 8 release. Tencent in a statement said regulators had received a large number of complaints about the game, which has sold over eight million copies worldwide.

Shares in Tencent, which is set to report half-year earnings on Wednesday, closed down 3.4 percent, against a 0.7 percent fall in the benchmark Hang Seng share price index.

The stock has dropped more than 14 percent this year, losing around $160 billion in market value since peaking in January.

“People are very concerned about Tencent in the short-term,” said Douglas Morton, head of research, Asia, at Northern Trust Capital Markets.

He said the block follows concern over Tencent’s ability to monetize “PlayerUnknown Battleground” (PUBG). Tencent had to alter PUBG last year after the regulator deemed it too violent, but has yet to receive a license to sell the updated version.

Industry executives said many firms have been awaiting games sales licenses since March after the government earlier in the year reformed its content regulatory body and split up the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film & Television.

“The key here is, not only PUBG, but no games are able to get licenses now,” a person from Tencent told Reuters on Tuesday on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The person said staff were puzzled as to why sales of Monster Hunter: World had been blocked as it was less gory than other titles and had received its sales license before March.

“It’s not impossible that you could still be hit even after you pass the censors, in the same way a movie can be pulled after public screening,” the person said.

Tencent declined to comment beyond Tuesday’s statement. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which regulates the video games industry, did not respond to requests for comment.

Morton said he remained bullish on Tencent stock and that there is always regulatory risk in China versus the rest of the global gaming market.

“For us this (firm) is a medium-to-longer-term holding with a history of good investment,” Morton said. “I think the monetization (of the blocked games) will happen, it is just a matter of time.”

Tencent said customers who purchased Monster Hunter: World were entitled to a full refund until Aug. 20. It said they will be able continue playing the game but that the firm could not guarantee associated services would continue.

Reporting by Pei Li in BEIJING and Sijia Jiang and Meg Shen in HONG KONG; Writing by Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI; Editing by Michael Perry and Christopher Cushing

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Vietnam's Vinfast in deal with Siemens for technology to make electric buses

HANOI (Reuters) – VinFast Trading and Production LLC has signed two contracts with Siemens Vietnam, a unit of Siemens AG, for the supply of technology and components to manufacture electric buses in the Southeast Asian country.

The headquarters of Siemens AG is seen before the company’s annual news conference in Munich, Germany, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

VinFast, a unit of Vietnam’s biggest private conglomerate, Vingroup JSC, said on Monday the deals will enable it to launch the first electric bus by the end of 2019.

“Electric buses are an essential element of sustainable urban public transportation systems,” Siemens Vietnam President and CEO Pham Thai Lai said in the statement.

VinFast will also produce electric motorcycles, electric cars and gasoline cars from its $1.5-billion factory being built in Haiphong City, it said.

In June, General Motors Co agreed to transfer its Vietnamese operation to VinFast, which will also exclusively distribute GM’s Chevrolet cars in Vietnam.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Himani Sarkar

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This Viral Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant's Safety Brief is Hilarious. But There's 1 Big Problem

You’ll crack a smile at least when you watch the Southwest Airlines flight attendant’s safety brief that I’ve embedded below. It’s pretty funny, although she does talk quite fast.

But it’s time to ask a serious question: Would you remember any of what she said in an actual emergency? 

That’s the big debate right now, as airlines do whatever they can think of to make people pay attention to safety videos and briefings. And we’ve reached a point where yes, some of the messages are in fact quite funny.

(The Air New Zealand one with the naked flight attendants for example will make you laugh, and the new Turkish Airlines LEGO Movie one, which you can also see at the end of this article.) 

But while these are entertaining videos and briefings, they’re hiding a giant problem: Passengers often don’t actually remember what they’ve been told to do, in a high-stress, emergency situation. 

Southwest and Delta

In this age of social media and instant video, we see fast proof. Let me give you two quick, recent examples:

  • Southwest flight 1380 last April, the emergency landing in which passenger Jennifer Riordan died. Viral video and photos show that almost all of the passengers wore their oxygen masks wrong. They would have been useless if the pilot hadn’t descended quickly enough to get to breathable air.
  • Delta Air Lines flight 1854 the following month. Flight attendants I heard from were livid, as they watched passengers evacuate a smoke-filled cabin, but stop to get their carry on bags in violation of a major safety rule.

As Zoe Chance of Yale University explained to the Los Angeles Times recently, the airlines’ funny safety briefings are like the companies that spend millions on Super Bowl ads, only to learn that people loved their ads–but can’t remember what they advertised.

“Just having naked flight attendants doesn’t work if the passengers don’t remember the message,” she said. “They just remember the naked flight attendants.”

S-P-O-R-T-S

So what’s the solution? One idea might be if airlines at least passed some of the safety equipment around on planes occasionally.

It might be helpful, for example, if the first time most passengers ever see an airplane oxygen mask or an under seat flotation device, it’s not during the panic of an actual emergency.

However, some airline pilots and other employees have told me they don’t think that is practical, in this era of shaving seconds off turnaround times in order to meet on-time departure goals.

So barring that, I’d suggest looking to the the U.S. military, which has spent decades learning to teach people to execute complex procedures in highly stressful conditions. 

Quick example: It’s been 15 years since I fired an M16A2 rifle in the Army Reserve, but I remember what to do if one jams in combat, because of the mnemonic they drilled into us: S-P-O-R-T-S: SLAP the magazine, PULL the charging handle, etc.

The military understands that stress makes it really hard to concentrate and remember things. Under intense stress pressure, people will literally forget things like which side of a weapon is the dangerous side (“FRONT TOWARD ENEMY“). 

Same as people will forget, under intense stress, that you’re supposed place the mask “over your nose AND mouth.”

Passenger-proof

Air travel is safer than it’s ever been, so maybe we’ve been lucky, or maybe this is not as big a problem as it might seem. But it would be great if we could figure out memorable, stressed-out-passenger-proof ways to teach these safety instructions. 

That said, I do find a lot of these briefings funny, and I don’t think I’ve ever personally had a bad experience on Southwest Airlines or Delta. And I do want to give credit where it’s due for being entertaining.

So we’ll end with a few of the funnier safety briefings–including the most recent Southwest one to go viral, along with the classic Air New Zealand video, and the brand new Turkish Airlines one.

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