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MHW was released on Tencent’s WeGame platform on August 8, one day before being made available on Steam. The company said it had already secured one million pre-orders on the platform, but Tencent has now removed it after the government revoked its operating license—the result of a “significant number of complaints.” It didn’t reveal any specifics about the complaints, but the Financial Times reports that a person close to WeGame said the removal was actually caused by bureaucratic infighting at China’s new media regulator.
The South China Morning Post reports that China’s State Administration of Radio and Television, which is in charge of monitoring games, has not issued licenses to any new titles since March 28. This has slowed growth in China’s game industry to single figures for the first time in a decade, and, coupled with the MHW removal, has seen Tencent struggle to compete with rising competition from Steam, which has around 20 million Chinese users.
Tencent has been in trouble with China’s gaming authorities before. It has been forced to introduce time restrictions for children who play its Honor of Kings (aka King of Glory) game, which many critics say is too addictive. It has also added in-game spending limits for underage account holders.
Tencent says anyone who has paid for MHW will be offered a free refund “without condition.” While the game could be relaunched on WeGame in the future, the move has had far-reaching consequences, with Tencent’s shares falling 2.5 per cent on Monday afternoon in Hong Kong.