Yahoo, Fortnite exit China as tech crackdown bites – Newspaper

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BEIJING (Reuters) – US internet services company Yahoo said on Tuesday it had pulled out of mainland China, becoming the latest technology company to pull out, as Beijing’s crackdown on the industry intensified.

The move comes just days after US gaming giant Epic announced that it would shut down its popular game “Fortnite” after imposing severe restrictions on the world’s largest gaming market.

Beijing has embarked on a massive regulatory crackdown on a number of industries in an effort to tighten its grip on the economy, with technology companies bearing the brunt.

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The push has seen a number of US-based companies pull major products out of China in recent weeks, with Microsoft announcing in October that it was shutting down its career-oriented social network LinkedIn.

“In recognition of the growing challenges of China’s business and legal environment, Yahoo’s suite of services will not be accessible from mainland China from November 1,” Yahoo said in a statement emailed to AFP.

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“Yahoo remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open Internet. We thank our users for their support.” Foreign tech companies have long walked a tightrope in China, forced to comply with strict local laws and government censorship of content.

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, rejecting Beijing’s claim to censor search results.

Reports in 2018 of a plan by Google executives to explore reopening a site in China sparked a backlash from rights groups and Google employees who warned that a censored search engine would set a “dangerous precedent”.

Yahoo China was launched in 1999, when the company was among the most important internet companies in the world.

Its presence in the country has shrunk in recent years, with Yahoo shutting down China’s Postal Service in 2013.

Yahoo’s latest statement reiterates Microsoft’s complaint in October that it faced an increasingly “challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements.”

China’s crackdown has also affected the video game sector, with officials saying in late August they want to curb addiction by announcing drastic cuts to the amount of time children spend playing online.

Gaming giant Epic on Sunday said it has pulled Fortnite, saying it will shut down the Chinese version of the widely popular game on November 15.

This action-packed shooter and world building game is one of the most popular games in the world, with more than 350 million users.

“Fortnite China Beta testing has ended, and servers will be shutting down soon,” a statement from the company said.

“On November 15 at 11am, we will shutdown game servers, and players will no longer be able to log in.” The move puts an end to a long-running test of an Epic version of “Fortnite” created specifically for the Chinese market, where content is censored due to excessive violence.

The Chinese beta was released in 2018, but “Fortnite” has never received the go-ahead from the government to officially launch and monetize it as approvals for new games have slowed.

Daniel Ahmed, chief video game analyst at Niko Partners, said fighting games like “Fortnite” have faced tougher approval requirements in recent years.

“We believe that disapproval is the main reason why Tencent and Epic decided to shut down the game at this point,” Ahmed said, even though the developers have made several changes to mitigate the deadliest aspects of the game.

Posted in Dawn, November 3, 2021

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