Tencent suspends marquee game after servers buckle on debut

DnF Mobile, based on developer Nexon Co’s long-running franchise, is a key title for hit-hungry Tencent, as the world’s biggest games publisher replenishes its ageing portfolio. — Bloomberg

Tencent Holdings Ltd suspended Dungeon & Fighter Mobile within an hour of its Chinese debut because of unspecified server glitches, suggesting players flooded the online platform for one of 2024’s most highly anticipated titles.

Tencent, which had been preparing for the launch for months, took down the game for maintenance after what it called “server fluctuations”, without elaborating. The abrupt take-down was regarded as a sign that the number of players overwhelmed the servers dedicated to hosting the game – a common occurrence for many long-awaited releases.

DnF Mobile, based on developer Nexon Co’s long-running franchise, is a key title for hit-hungry Tencent, as the world’s biggest games publisher replenishes its ageing portfolio. New game releases in China were hamstrung by a prolonged halt in license approvals, and Tencent plans to ramp up releases as the year goes along. Its gaming revenue is estimated to grow by double-digits this quarter after a long period of contraction, aided in part by the new role-playing game.

Tencent’s shares were down about 3% before the lunch break, but off their morning low. The company compensated players with virtual coins and other in-game items as it worked to rectify login issues. The game resumed for players after a little over an hour, though not all functions were available.

“The launch-day server outage of Tencent’s highly-anticipated new game DnF Mobile is a potential sign of strong demand for the title. The disruption is unlikely to have a material impact on its earnings.

“The rebound in Tencent’s 1Q domestic game receipts provided confidence the recovery in its China video game business can continue though the rest of 2024, though at a more modest pace than recent years. We expect China’s video game market to grow 6% in 2024, down from 13.9% in 2023,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Robert Lea and Jasmine Lyu.

DnF Mobile quickly took the top spot as the most downloaded free game on the iPhone app store in China, and the title has garnered over 60 million player registrations across platforms pre-launch.

Tencent had sought to bring the game to China as far back as 2020, but that coincided with the height of a Beijing regulatory crackdown that imposed new rules on Internet companies. Nexon said at the time it was delaying the title to comply with restrictions aimed at curbing addiction among minors.

Chinese regulators granted DnF Mobile a commercial license in February, and Tencent executives said they fast-tracked its launch after seeing positive testing results. – Bloomberg

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