Interpret Weekly: Asia Entertainment 07/12/2021

Bona Film GroupTencent Pictures / Shanghai Film GroupCCTV Animation / Wanda Pictures

Produced by Bona Film, patriotic propaganda Chinese Doctors is inspired by the real experiences of medical personnel in Wuhan during the early days of the pandemic. It earned more than twice the three-day debut of fellow nationalistic tribute to the Communist Party, 1921, which earned $21.4 million last weekend and came in second with further sales of $6.6 million this weekend.

Although China’s censorship authorities approved Black Widow for release back in March, Marvel has yet to offer any indication of a release date for the key territory. The delay push is largely due to the foreign blackout in July when the theaters are full of patriotic pics such 1921, The Pioneer, and Chinese Doctors as a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. When Disney Plus released the film online for a $30 fee in other territories Friday, it unleashed an easily pirated, high-definition version of the film that reached Chinese consumers within hours.

A powerful opening by Black Widow lifted the South Korean box office to its biggest weekend this year. Since being released on Wednesday, the MCU title has grossed $12.1 million over the five days.

Tencent plans to employ a “Midnight Patrol” system – which will scan the faces of players and compares the result against a database of faces and names – with the aim of preventing minors from playing video games late into the night. This is a follow-up on a local law introduced in 2019 intended to prevent minors “from indulging in online games,” which includes a ban on minors playing video games from 10:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., as well as limiting their playtime to 90 minutes a day. Tencent introduced real-name verifications but many minors were able to circumvent the ban by using the ID of their adult relatives or “renting” ID online in order to play.

Uncapped falls under the umbrella of Tencent subsidiary Lightspeed & Quantum Studios Group, and will focus on the PC real-time strategy genre. The studio will be led by Blizzard veterans David Kim and Jason Hughes. Right now, Uncapped is a team of 10, but it is looking to double that number by the end of the year.

The game has won the approval from the local censorship authority and plans to release through Tencent’s Steam-like platform WeGame. Tencent owns a 5% stake in Ubisoft.

The game has become an R-rated game in Korea after Microsoft, the owner of the game developer Mojang Studios, in 2014 changed its policy to ban anyone under the age of 19 from making an account to avoid the regulation, instead of bothering to create a separate server.

There has been an endless debate surrounding the issue of whether to continue or abolish the rare law since it took effect in 2011 that automatically prohibits access to online games from midnight to 6am for underage to protect teens from health deterioration and game addiction. It has now faced a renewed protest after Minecraft, a sandbox video game that is rated 12+ in Korea and 7+ in other countries, is getting more popular but teens’ access to the game is initially prohibited due to an adults-only rating in Korea imposed by its publisher Microsoft.

The new MMORPG Odin launched on June 29, has been the top-grossing game on Google Play and Apple’s App Store for three consecutive days, beating NCSoft’s Lineage M and Lineage 2M. It garnered more than 4 million pre-orders and became the most popular game app on both of the app markets before the launch.

Just last month, soccer player Antoine Griezmann, who plays for FC Barcelona, was made an ambassador of the popular Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise, including the video game series, long running anime, and card game. But following allegations of racism, Konami has now dropped their approach to working with him. In a video from 2019 that has recently been circulating the internet, Griezmann can be heard alongside his team mate, Ousmane Dembele, mocking Asian staff in a hotel room whilst they try and fix an issue with their room.

Nintendo on Tuesday announced a new version of its popular Switch game console which has a larger and more colorful screen and will be available on Oct. 8 for $349.99. That price is a premium over the $299.99 for the standard Switch and $199.99 for the Switch Lite. The new device uses, as its name implies, an OLED screen that’s brighter and more colorful than the screen on the standard model. It has a 7-inch screen versus the 6.2-inch screen on the standard version and 5.5-inch screen on the Switch Lite. It also features improved speakers, twice the storage, and a new kickstand design.

China’s market regulator, the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR), said it would block Tencent’s plan to merge the country’s top two videogame streaming sites, Huya and DouYu. Tencent is Huya’s biggest shareholder with 36.9% and also owns over a third of DouYu, with both firms listed in the United States and worth a combined $5.3 billion in market value. SAMR said Huya and DouYu’s combined market share in the video game live-streaming industry would be over 70% and their merger would strengthen Tencent’s dominance in this market, given Tencent already has over 40% market share in the online games operations segment.

The recent Chinese tech antitrust campaign has reached Tencent Music. The local regulator is set to order the music streaming arm of Tencent to give up exclusive rights to music labels which it has used to compete with smaller rivals. The State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) will also fine it 500,000 yuan ($77,150) for lapses in reporting the acquisitions of apps Kuwo and Kugou – a milder penalty than the forced sale indicated earlier this year.

TikTok owner ByteDance on Friday said that it would formally end its weekend overtime policy from Aug. 1, two weeks after its short-video rival Kuaishou announced a similar decision.

Many Chinese tech companies – including ByteDance – had previously embraced the practice common for many Chinese tech giants, known as “big/small weeks,” meaning that staff work one Sunday every alternate weekend. This decision was made after an internal survey by ByteDance showed about one third of employees hope to end the policy for a better work and life balance, while also one third wished to keep the policy since they can be paid around 20% more.

ByteDance has recently raised the priority level for its music products to P1, on par with its games and education services. Meanwhile, Alex Zhu, Vice President of Product and Strategy for ByteDance and former head of TikTok, has taken over to lead the firm’s overseas music product, Resso. ByteDance’s move to develop its music service is both a pragmatic decision to improve the efficiency of copyright usage, as well as a perfect fit for the firm’s overall strategy of cashing in on digital traffic advertising.

Endeavor China has acquired the Mailman Group, the Shanghai-based digital agency for sports brands and rights holders. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Mailman will be folded into Endeavor’s full-service cultural marketing agency, 160over90.