Krafton, the South Korean developer of PUBG: Battlegrounds (formerly called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) faced a dismal launch on the South Korean stock market today in the wake of new restrictions on online gaming being pushed by Chinese regulators.
Though Krafton isn’t a Chinese company, it’s backed by Tencent Holdings (which also invests in Riot Games, Epic Games, and more). Tencent publishes PUBG: Battlegrounds in China under the name Peacekeeper Elite, and runs the mobile version of the game (titled PUBG Mobile) in other regions.
With such a tight connection to Chinese players, Krafton appears to be exceptionally vulnerable to any restrictions on games published in the region.
Analysts speaking to the South China Morning Post linked Krafton’s dismal stock debut to recent comments from Chinese state media that described online gaming as “spiritual opium.” Shortly after those comments were published in Economic Information Daily, Tencent announced it would issue new restrictions for younger players’ spending and playtime.
Those restrictions apparently spooked investors, and Krafton’s stock market launch (backed by a $3.8 billion public offering) tanked with the company’s stock down 9 percent after the first day of trading. (It started off the day down 20 percent at market open).
Despite the tumble, Krafton was apparently the top video game company stock on the Seoul stock market at the end of trading.