The mobile games industry this week: miHoYo, censorship, investment...

Genshin moves to Cognosphere from miHoYo

In December, companies make their year-end decisions and set their sights on their 2022 projects. From anime games to Warhammer to Supercell titles, we recap the week's news in the mobile games industry with a special focus on the publishing transfers between miHoYo and Cognosphere Ltd.

Aniplex acquires the video game division of DELiGHTWORKS

DELiGHTWORKS has been in discussion with Aniplex for some time now. To put this negotiation in perspective, we'd like to introduce you to the two players you may not know. DELiGHTWORKS is known for the creation of Fate/Grand Order and Sakura Revolution in collaboration with SEGA (closed last June).

Transfer Fate/Grand Order to Aniplex

On its side, Aniplex has established itself as a renowned anime producer with F/GO, SAO, I want to eat your pancreas, Demon Slayer and other titles with a worldwide reputation. So this purchase for F/GO makes sense. However, rather than a direct sale of DELiGHTWORKS, the studio intends to create a separate company by handing over the activities of its video game division. Then, it will be enough to transfer this new entity to Aniplex.

Warhammer: Age of Sigmar comes to mobile

Publisher NEXON (Maple Story, Blue Archive, V4) signs a licensing agreement for Warhammer: Age of Sigmar with Games Workshop. Both companies want Warhammer: Age of Sigmar to become an interactive social experience between the player and his environment in the world. The game will be available in 13 languages and should appeal to fans of the licence.

Warhammer: Age of Sigmar published by NEXON Games

As warrior commanders, players will have to bring peace to the kingdoms and collect numerous characters with unique abilities and stories. Each character will be customisable and will be able to participate in the establishment of the new peace.

Tencent's investment in Supercell

While Supercell has suffered a year-on-year revenue decline since Tencent Games took a stake in the company, the Asian video game giant is looking to buy out other shareholders to boost the company's value to US$11 billion. This may come as a surprise as current shareholders seem disappointed with the Finnish studio and publisher's performance since 2016.

Boom Beach Frontlines available in early access

The $11 billion enterprise value would represent a 10% boost over the 2016 estimate. Currently in discussions with other shareholders, Tencent has not yet confirmed this action. Finally, I imagine this revaluation with a value boost is based on the global release of stocks such asEverdale, Clash Heroes, Clash Mini, Clash Quest and Boom Beach Frontlines.

miHoYo has Genshin Impact and Tears of Themis published by Cognosphere Ltd

Since the end of November, miHoYo has transferred the publishing rights of Genshin Impact and Tears of Themis (in the Google Play Awards' list of best innovative mobile games of 2021 ) to another company. Not to worry for gamers, this should not affect the quality of the publishing as the new publisher, Cognosphere Limited, is nothing more than a proxy publishing label for miHoYo. So don't worry, you haven't been hacked if your Genshin payments show up in your history as Cognosphere Ltd. Future miHoYo games will still be developed in-house but probably published by Cognosphere.

Theory 1: Getting around international launch concerns

Note that this comes at a critical juncture in the video game industry. In fact, several theories coexist to explain this decision of the studio behind Honkai Impact. Firstly, it is becoming increasingly common in our news feeds that some Chinese development studios are "going over to the dark side" by choosing a foreign publisher to "better manage the international market".

Tears of Themis published by Cognosphere Ltd

This kind of decision comes in particular in response to legal uncertainties at the publishing level, which allows some studios to publish their games in India, for example, while many Chinese games have been banned there (118 applications in September 2020).

In this case, the publisher is nothing more than an intermediary from another country playing on the legal blur. Taking a slightly different example, PUBG mobile was banned from the Indian market by the Indian government in 2020 despite being published by Tencent (Chinese publisher). By moving away from Tencent's publication to self-publish, South Korean studio Krafton was able to bypass the ban and publish the game in India under the name Battlegrounds Mobile India. China and its politically influenced entities are not welcome everywhere.

Theory 2: miHoYo's creative freedom

On the other hand, the second theory about the change of publisher for miHoYo proposes a censorship explanation. Although we haven't talked about it much on, video game censorship in China has been on the rise in recent months. In addition to the government's validation list for games and applications that has existed for several years in China, the rules for what content is and is not allowed have been tightened.

Genshin Impact now published by Cognosphere in mobile and PC games

Effeminate characters and content considered not to be in line with the country's traditional culture are gradually becoming illegal and the Chinese government is imposing controls on all games on its territory. Therefore, publishing the game through a foreign company (Cognosphere Ltd is owned by Singapore) could avoid some complications.

However, this seems to me to be an oversimplification, since if miHoYo wants to reach the Chinese market (even via a Singapore edition), the studio will have to meet the government's expectations, at least for the Chinese version of its game. This may therefore allow the Chinese studio to allow itself greater creative freedom for the international version of its game and to be content with applying Chinese rules for the Chinese version of its titles. In any case, Honkai Impact should join the proxy publisher Cognosphere Ltd soon and future miHoYo titles like Honkai: Star Rail should also follow this path. However, this will not change the gameplay of your favourite games currently online!

Yaya Yaya would never have spent a single cent on a mobile game. At least, that's what the legend says.

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