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Playing Around with Tencent: Chinese Parents are Losing a Fortune on Mobile Games

With Tencent being a huge player in both the online gaming and online payment market, making in-app purchases has never been easier. Oblivious to the dangers of children playing online, some Chinese parents have now lost thousands of renminbi to virtual weapons and armor.

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With China’s tech giant Tencent being a huge player in both the online gaming and online payment market, making in-app purchases for mobile games has never been easier. Oblivious to the dangers of children playing online, many Chinese parents are losing thousands of renminbi to virtual weapons and armor.

“I will return the money when I am older,” a 9-year-old mobile games fan told Chinese reporters from Pear Video this week.

The third grader from Guiyang, Guizhou, secretly spent over 20,000 RMB (±3000$) of his father’s money on mobile games, buying weapons and armor for his virtual warriors. The boy could effortlessly click from the mobile game to QQ Wallet, one of the Paypal-like online payment platforms by Chinese tech giant Tencent.

The anonymous 9-year-old speaking to Pear Video reporters.

The unexpected financial setback is a big blow to the family. The father makes less than 100 RMB (14.8$) per day. To earn back the money his son spent on online games will cost him seven months of work. The 20,000 RMB was the family’s savings, much needed for their everyday life and their son’s school books.

The young boy started spending the money when he played a popular online mobile fighting game. He wanted to purchase additional in-game features to keep up with his friends, who also play the same game.

QQ Wallet makes it easy to pay for in-app purchases.

Since the boy knew his father’s QQ Wallet code, he was able to purchase dozens of items through the app without his father knowing.

 

“This is booming business for Tencent, as it can easily rope in its users across multiple platforms; making the step from WeChat friend groups to mobile games to online payment as small as possible.”

 

This story is just one among many. At the same time the story of the boy from Guiyang made its rounds on Chinese social media, there was also the story of a 13-year-old from Xianyang who spent 5697 RMB (±850$) in one day on a Tencent mobile game through WeChat Pay. Or that of a junior high school student from Guangzhou spending a staggering 50,000 RMB (±7400$) within one week, buying armor for a game.

In the Xianyang case, the parents of the boy noticed dozens of text messages on their phone when they returned home from work on July 28. They were all confirmation messages from WeChat for mobile payments. The father from Guangzhou told a similar story to Sina News. As many children in China have summer break from school, parents are often at work while the children are at home, and have less overview of what their children are doing.

The game many of these children spent money on is called Crossfire (穿越火线), published by Tencent in China. The game is free to play, but earns its revenues from microtransactions. Players are willing to pay large amounts of money to get better weapons and win territory.

The game is currently among the top downloaded games in the Tencent app store. Its most expensive in-app purchase is almost 616 RMB (±91$); an amount that was spent many times by the 9-year-old boy from Guiyang.

The news report about the 9-year-old boy spending 20,000 RMB on a game shows many transactions of 615; likely concerning Tencent’s Crossfire game.

China has the largest mobile gaming market in the world – and it is a booming business. As China’s leading tech company, Tencent is a dominant player in various fields. It runs messaging platforms QQ and WeChat, online payments solutions Tenpay, QQ Wallet, and WeChat Pay, and also owns a big chunk of China’s online gaming market.

The combination is a golden one for Tencent, as it can easily rope in its users across multiple platforms; making the step from WeChat friend groups to mobile games with in-app purchases to online payment as small as possible.

This is not necessarily a problem when it concerns adult players, but when it concerns kids as young as 9, the game is a trickier one.

 

“My little brother is crazy about mobile games, and I told him that I will beat him up if he uses our parent’s money to play. Our relative’s son used up 20,000 RMB on mobile games.”

 

Why do these children know their parents’ payments code? The father from Guangzhou told media reporters he trusted his child and shared his code so they can top up their mobile phone credit if necessary. The 13-year-old boy from Xianyang told Chinese media that he just knew his father’s payment code because he had seen it before. But once he started playing the game, he just kept on going to the next level and lost track of the amount of money he had actually spent.

The game currently has no age restrictions for its players. Recently, however, various media reported that Tencent was limiting the play time for some of its mobile games, restricting players under 12 to play more than an hour per day, to avoid children becoming addicted to mobile gaming.

One Weibo user said: “Lately, there are a lot of mobile games and online games that have many methods to lure users into spending money. Of course, this is one of the main ways for these games to earn money from players, but the people who are running and operating these businesses are not stupid – they know that many of their players are young kids. But still, this is how unscrupulous they are. Doesn’t your conscience bother you?”

Another commenter wrote: “My little brother is crazy about mobile games, and I told him that I will beat him up if he uses our parent’s money to play. We’ve never had a problem. Our relative’s son used up 20,000 RMB on mobile games.”

Many users also stress that parents need to keep their payment identification codes a secret to their children: “Why on earth would you ever tell little kids who cannot control their urges your payment code?”

Some netizens also say that children under the age of 12 should not be allowed to play mobile games at all.

By now, the fathers from Guiyang and Xiangyang have both contacted Tencent to see if they can get some of their money back. In both cases, it is yet unclear if they will succeed in being reimbursed for their children’s games.

By Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Comic & Games

China’s Latest Online Viral Game Makes You Clap for Xi Jinping

Smart propaganda – now clapping for Xi Jinping has become a competition.

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In a new online game that has come out during the 19th National Congress in Beijing, Chinese netizens can compete in applauding for Xi Jinping. The game has become an online hit.

The major 19th CPC National Congress started on Wednesday in Beijing with a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping that took nearly 3,5 hours.

The speech, that focused on China’s future and its rise in the world today, was repeatedly paused for the appropriate applause from the party members in the audience.

With the introduction of a new game by Tencent, people can now also clap along to Xi Jinping’s speech from their own living room. The game became an online hit on October 18. It was already played over 400 million times by 9 pm Beijing time.

The mobile game can be opened through a link that takes you to a short segment of the lengthy speech by Xi Jinping. In the short segment, President Xi mentions that it is the mission of the Communist Party of China to strive for the happiness and the rise of the Chinese people.

The app then allows you “clap” for Xi by tapping the screen of your phone as many times as you can within a time frame of 18 seconds. After completing, you can invite your friends to play along and compete with them.

The game has become especially popular on WeChat, where some users boast that they have scored a ‘clap rate’ of 1695.

If you’re up to it, you can try to clap as much as you can for Xi Jinping here.

By Manya Koetse and Diandian Guo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Arts & Entertainment

Getting on the Pokémon Bus: Taiwan’s Booming Pokémon Go Business

The highly anticipated release of Pokemon Go in Taiwan on August 6th has led to a true Pokemon Go craze. It has brought about a thriving Pokemon Go business – introducing anything from Pokemon Go university courses to Pokemon Go bus tours.

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The highly anticipated release of Pokémon Go in Taiwan on August 6th has led to a national Pokémon Go craze. It has brought about a thriving Pokémon business – introducing anything from Pokémon Go university courses to Pokémon Go bus tours.

After a month of waiting impatiently, Taiwan has finally welcomed the global Pokémon Go hype on August 6th. The Taiwan arrival of the game, where players locate and ‘capture’ virtual creatures called Pokémon with their mobile device, soon become a much-talked about topic on social media, anywhere from Weibo to Twitter.

John Hanke, the man behind the game, welcomed Taiwan to the Pokémon Go family with a friendly Tweet in traditional Chinese, saying: “Taiwan – Welcome to Pokémon Go.”

 

“National Taiwan University offers a special Pokémon course: ‘A Study on Pokémon.'”

 

The innocent Tweet soon triggered some animosity from mainland netizens who angrily asked why Pokémon Go was available in Taiwan but not in mainland China, where the game yet remains inaccessible.

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Despite this little controversy, the Pokémon craze in Taiwan is just as crazy as it is in the rest of the world. So crazy, in fact, that Taiwan’s top university National Taiwan University has even decided to offer a special Pokémon course.

The course is called “A Study on Pokémon“. Perhaps contrary to expectations, it will not teach about all the Pokémon in the game or how to catch them. Instead, it offers a study into the Pokémon phenomenon from a scientific and legal angle.

 

“Pokémon Go resulted in more than 800 traffic fines just three days after the game became available in Taiwan.”

 

Like in the rest of the world, Pokémon Go is also causing some trouble here in Taiwan. News has been coming in of people playing the game while driving their car, or riding their scooter with one hand while trying to catch Pokémon with the other.

The arrival of Pokémon Go resulted in more than 800 traffic fines just three days after the game became available in Taiwan.

At the Taipei Zoo, special signs inform visitors about the right way to play Pokémon Go whilst visiting the park, humorously reminding them to mind their step and the animals when playing.

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A resourceful Taiwanese netizen came up with a new business idea after hearing about all the accidents caused by the game. Vera Lin posted her chauffeur services on her Facebook page. For NT$ 650 (±US$20), she said, players in the Taoyuan area could hire her to drive them around town on her scooter while they could catch Pokémon.

taiwanesepokemon

Her business allegedly also included other special services. “While in transit,” Lin wrote, “if you see someone you like, I can stop the scooter and get their phone number or ask for a photo on your behalf.” Sadly, to the dismay of many male netizens, it turned out Ms. Lin didn’t even know how to ride a bicycle.

 

“Pokémon bus tours: an experienced Pokémon trainer will be on the bus to share his tips and tricks on playing the game.”

 

Though Vera Lin’s services are fake, there are real services in Taiwan that offer to chauffeur players around town to catch ‘em all. For NT$ 3000 (±US$96) players can hire a taxi for 8 hours to drive them around town.

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Taiwanese travel e-commerce platform KKday introduced Pokémon-themed bus tours around Taipei as a way to promote their business. The Pokémon Go tours, that were offered from August 11-13, were free and were led by an experienced Pokémon Go player. Pokémon bus tours have also become news on Sina Weibo.

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During the KKday Pokémon tours, professional Pokémon Go player Hsu Chieh showed participants how & where to catch Pokémon. The tour also visited local attractions while playing the game. The promotional tours turned out to be very successful, as 1000 fans registered to participate.

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Local tour agency Lion Travel now also offers a Pokémon bus tour with a price tag of NT$99 (US$3). This 4-hour Lion Travel bus tour takes players to popular attractions such as the 228 Peace Memorial Park and Tamsui Old Street. An experienced Pokémon trainer will be on the bus to share his tips and tricks on playing the game. The tour makes use of Lure Modules at every stop to attract more Pokémon.

 

“Cruises take players around the lake, allowing them to capture those water-loving Pokémon that cannot be found on land.”
 

Pokémon Go’s arrival in Taiwan has already proven to be good for land-based businesses, but it has also been profitable for on-water businesses. Inspired by the idea of catching water-based Pokémon, boat operators at Taiwan’s tourist attraction Sun Moon Lake are now offering Pokémon-themed cruises. These cruises take players around the lake, allowing them to capture those water-loving Pokémon that cannot be found on land. There has also been news of families and groups of friends chartering boats just to catch Pokémon.

The Pokémon craze has resulted in many Pokémon-related promotional offers in Taiwan. As one Weibo netizen recently wrote: “It has only been 5 days since Pokémon Go was released in Taiwan, and already shops on every street are offering discounts for Pokémon Go players!”

pokemongotaiwan

One remarkable offer is one that is currently being offered by a Taiwanese funeral home. In Taichung, a funeral home put out a billboard ad with a message that reads: “13% off on services for deaths caused by Pokémon Go related accidents.” Fortunately, nobody has claimed the offer yet.

By Chi Wen, edited by Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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