The Trump administration, in a battle with Chinese companies over app data collection policies, may soon target mobile gaming.
National data security has become a mainstream topic amid news of a possible app ban on the social media platform TikTok. The Trump administration has targeted it due to its parent company, Tencent, based in Shenzhen, China. The move, which reflects the federal government’s growing interest in regulating mobile app data collection, could soon significantly impact the mobile gaming industry.
In September, the Trump administration began investigating two American mobile game developers with ties to Tencent. The outcome of this investigation could have serious implications for the future of mobile gaming.
How Mobile Gaming Got Caught in a Battle Over Data Security
The move is part of a broader struggle over the social media app TikTok, which has had a meteoric rise in popularity among U.S. consumers over the course of this year and 2019.
While WeChat, a social media platform known in part for connecting people living in China with others outside the country, is likely the next target for the Trump administration’s ire. However, some mobile game developers are already coming under scrutiny. Tencent also has strong ties to the mobile gaming industry.
According to a new report from Bloomberg, American video game developers Riot and Epic Games have received letters from the Trump administration’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (or CFIUS) that questioned executive staff on company ties to Tencent. Tencent owns League of Legends developer Riot outright and has a 40% stake in Epic, which is best known for developing Fortnite.
Aimen Mir, a former treasury department employee who ran CFIUS reviews during his time there, told Bloomberg that if the committee determines risks are high enough, it may “warrant forcing deals apart.”
The Trump administration’s approach to Tencent-owned developers and publishers could mean that before deals are “forced apart,” their apps may be pulled from the store.