Tencent Leads Efforts to Build China Age Ratings System; HQ Trivia Lays Off 20% of Staff

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TheGamingEconomy’s Daily Digest brings you the trending stories in gaming. In today’s news: Tencent leads efforts to build age ratings system in China; HQ Trivia lays off approximately 20% of staff; and worldwide mobile gaming revenue hits USD$29.6bn (£23.6bn) in the first half of 2019.

Tencent leads efforts to build age ratings system in China

In collaboration with more than ten other China-based gaming firms, as well as state-backed newspaper the People’s Daily, Tencent is leading efforts to build an age ratings system for games sold in the country. Under the system, games will be assigned to one of four categories age categories, 6, 12, 16 and 18+, according to content and level of in-app purchases, amongst other metrics.

While the need for age regulation in the Chinese market is apparent, given the nation does not yet have such a system, the contribution from major game developers and publishers such as Tencent to the Beijing-led campaign has been seen as an attempt to pander to the Chinese authorities. The video games market in the country was stunted by the nine month freeze on new releases in 2018, with Tencent itself suffering a drop of USD$20bn (£15.6bn) in its market value during this time.

HQ Trivia lays off approximately 20% of staff

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HQ, the company behind free-to-play mobile live-quiz game HQ Trivia, has reportedly laid off approximately 20% of its staff, bringing the number of employees below 30. The company, based in New York and once valued at USD$100m (£79.8m), has struggled in recent months, with downloads per month falling 92% year-on-year according to Sensor Tower. Moreover, staff morale is reportedly at a low ebb, with an apparent revolt against co-founder Rus Yusupov, who replaced former CEO Colin Kroll, following the latter’s untimely death in December last year.

The lay-off casts doubt upon attempts to diversify HQ’s offering, with new subscription title HQ Words Everyday due for release this month, however no further announcements have been made on this since June.

Worldwide mobile gaming revenue hits USD$29.6bn (£23.6bn) in the first half of 2019

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Worldwide mobile gaming revenue has reached USD$29.6bn (£23.6bn) in the first half of 2019, according to marketing intelligence firm Sensor Tower. Revenue from titles purchased on App Store increased by 7.7% year on year to USD$17.6bn (£14bn), whereas spending on games on Google Play grew by 16.8% to reach USD$12bn (£9.57bn). The difference in year-on-year growth rate across the platforms has been attributed to the continuing pause from the Chinese government on new mobile titles, as well as a decline in consumer spending in the country, which disproportionately affects iOS in comparison to Android.

This dichotomy can be seen more clearly when examining new game downloads, which reached 15.7bn on Google Play, whereas on App store there were only 4.4bn new downloads, representing a 1.4% drop from last year.