The name Tencent still doesn’t mean much to most gamers, despite the fact that the Tencent Games is now the fourth biggest game publisher in the world. The reason for that is because the company operates mostly in its native China. With the confirmation of an upcoming western release of Monster Hunter Online, though, the Tencent name has started to gradually grab the interest of many.
Considering the nature of China as a nation it’s endemic that news, both gaming-related and much more serious ones, often fail to be noticed in the west, so I wouldn’t be surprised if many didn’t know that the Sichuan province (and in particular Lushan County) located in the south-west of the country has been hit yesterday by a devastating Earthquake measured 7.0 on the Richter Scale.
Today China’s Ministry of of Civil Affairs reportted that 203 people have been killed by the quake, while more than 11,000 are injured. The toll is probably destined to worsen as rescue operations continue.
Tencent was between the first Chinese companies to respond to the emergency, donating 500 million Yuan (about $81 million) to support disaster relief and immediately establishing an internet-based platform to further improve awareness and help with rescue operations.
The donation is reported to be only a first batch, so more is expected to follow. The company also opened a donation portal in order to raise further funds, calling gamers and internet users across the country to help with the relief effort. Little more than one million Yuan (about $162,000) has been raised via the website at the moment of this writing thanks to 16,448 donors. Contributions are reaching the population in need in collaboration with the China Foundation of Poverty Alleviation.
Tencent isn’t the only technology company that immediately contributed to the relief effort. The rival Shanda (that operates popular games like Legend of Immortal and The Sign II) donated another 500 million Yuan while Perfect World (that is well known in the west as the owner of Cryptic Studios and for having exported many of its own games like Perfect World and Forsaken World) contributed with 3 million Yuan (little less than $500,000). Many others have donated as well.
Tencent isn’t new to this kind of initiative. The Tencent Charity Foundation has been contributing to several social support an relief efforts and projects since its foundation in 2006, going from public welfare programs like the construction of schools to relief donations for the Great Sichuan Earthquake of 2008.
We often condemn publishers for what we perceive (rightly or otherwise) as anti-customer practices, but just as often we forget that many do contribute where it’s really needed. Just to bring an examples Sony donated 300 Million Yen (approximately $3.6 million) and Square Enix another 100 Million to support the population hit by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
The history of gaming companies all over the world is dotted of hundreds of positive actions like those and Tencent’s commendable response to this new disaster is just the latest of many.
Update: Crytek just sent in a press release basically saying that they jumped the gun, and the game is NOT confirmed for an US and European Release. You can read the relevant quote here.
[Photo credit: Xinhua]