Tencent Holdings’ homage to modern China has topped the gaming charts days after its debut, riding a groundswell of patriotism as the Communist Party prepares to celebrate 70 years in power.
Homeland Dream, the world-building title akin to the iconic SimCity of yesteryear, has become the most downloaded free game on the Chinese Apple iOS store since its September 24 launch, beating out money-spinners like Tencent’s own mainstay Honour of Kings.
The title – developed in partnership with the state-run People’s Daily – lets players build a virtual metropolis from scratch while collecting cartoonish images of Communist slogans, national landmarks and politically tinged buzzwords such as “One Country, Two Systems.”
The government is prepping to celebrate on Tuesday the 70th birthday of the People’s Republic of China, at a time it is grappling with major challenges to its authority from unrest in Hong Kong to a worsening economy buffeted by US tensions. To whip up nationalistic fervour, the country plans to screen a string of patriotic films and televise a parade of military might through the heart of Beijing.
Homeland Dream was Tencent’s latest attempt to cosy up to a government increasingly intolerant of its bread-and-butter business of gaming. The title was unveiled last month at the country’s largest gaming expo along with another patriotic offering in partnership with the government of Guangdong province, its home base.
Following a bruising 2018 crackdown, Tencent in May swapped its popular Battle Royale shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds with a gore-free version that lionised the Chinese military. The revamp, Peacekeeper Elite, could generate US$1 billion of gross revenue by the end of this year, Niko Partners estimated in June.