US President Donald Trump’s attacks on TikTok escalated wildly today, after he signed an Executive Order that not only seeks to prevent Americans from doing business with ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company), but also targets Tencent, the Chinese giant that among other things owns Riot (League of Legends), along with partial stakes in everyone from Ubisoft to Epic Games to Paradox.
While TikTok’s impending ban was already being widely discussed, the similar measures being introduced against Tencent have come as a surprise. At the moment the wording of the orders appear to be restricted to Tencent’s social media and commerce platform Wechat:
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) August 7, 2020
The entire first page of the Wechat-related order mentions only the social media platform. But the wording of one section in particular is less clear about that, as it would forbid “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd…or any subsidiary of that entity”.
The section 1 (c) mentioned specifies that the government has 45 days to nominate just which of Tencent’s subsidiaries would be subject to this ruling (provided it’s not thrown out in the inevitable legal challenges).
While that would seemingly exclude companies like Epic and Ubisoft, since Tencent only has a minority stake in their overall ownership, it could potentially impact Riot Games, developers of League of Legends and Valorant, Supercell (Clash of Clans), Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile) and Funcom (Conan Exiles, Age of Conan), all of whom are either wholly or majority owned by Tencent.
Complicating matters further, Tencent develops games for other publishers, including Call of Duty: Mobile for Activision and the upcoming Pokémon Unite.
As this story is still developing, we’ll update it when we have more information from the parties involved, who we’ve contacted for comment.