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Tencent takes on Burberry in the gaming world

By Angela Gonzalez-Rodriguez

26 Mar 2021

Tencent Holdings has removed two Burberry-designed “skins”, outfits worn by videogame characters from its blockbuster title, Honour of Kings.The Chinese company hasn’t offered much detail into their decision, although sources close to the matter cited by the ‘South China Morning Post’ hint it could be on the grounds that the British fashion house refuses to buy cotton produced in the Xinjiang.

“The ‘Honor of Kings’ project team has now decided to cancel the new skins of ‘Yao’ and ‘Spirit of Forest & Ocean Legend’ skin project with Burberry,” as announced by an Honor of Kings representative wrote on the Chinese social media network Weibo on Thursday. “We will continue to work hard to continuously improve the gaming experience of the majority of players.” At the close of this edition, the original announcement was removed from Burberry’s corporate web.

Burberry and the Tencent Holdings’ owned videogame entered into a partnership last year to create skins (the videogame’s characters’ outfits) in its popular MOBA game Honor of Kings. Burberry signed the deal with Tencent Games in November of 2020, with the aim of targeting China’s “fashion-forward, digital-first customers.”

Tencent’s withdraw from the agreement reportedly linked to Burberry’s stance on Xinjiang

A source close to Honor of Kings developer TiMi Studios told ‘The Esports Observer’ that “severe and massive player backlash in China against the skins led to the cancellation.” A recent poll conducted by the company shows that about 85 percent of the 11,000 surveyed players said they would not purchase the skins.

According to the Asian edition of ‘Campaign’, over the past 24 hours, many foreign brands have found themselves at odds with public sentiment in China regarding their participation in the Better Cotton Initiative, which has strongly condemned labour practices in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Tencent Games decision to cut ties with Burberry follows suit with the decision of about 40 Chinese celebrities to end their contracts with brands including H&M, Adidas, Nike, Uniqlo, Converse, CK, Puma, New Balance, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste and Burberry itself.

China’s Ministry of Commerce weighed in via an official statement Thursday, saying, “China firmly opposes any sanction imposed on individuals or entities based on the pretext of so-called human rights issues in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, and companies involved should avoid politicizing business issues.”

Image: Burberry for Tencent Games