Tencent announced first quarter 2019 profits of RMB 27.9 billion ($4 billion), posting 16% growth year on year driven by strong earnings from the company’s fintech and cloud businesses. However, revenue growth was the slowest on record as the titan struggles to recoup losses from increased gaming regulations in China.
Tencent grew its revenue 16% year on year to RMB 85.5 billion in the first quarter. RMB 21.8 billion came from fintech and other businesses including payment services and cloud computing, which posted strong 44% year-on-year growth.
Fintech and cloud revenue momentum helped offset a disastrous period for games due to increased regulatory oversight. The company released only one new mobile title—Perfect World Mobile—in the first quarter. Smartphone gaming revenue fell 2% year on year as a result, to RMB 21.1 billion, though it rose 11% sequentially, showing the catastrophic effects of the government’s crackdown on new gaming licenses.
In the second quarter the company plans to release “several” games, according to its official release. It also has plans to implement a paid season pass system, similar to systems in overseas titles Fortnite and PUBG Mobile. The season pass will apply to domestic games including Cross Fire Mobile, Honour of Kings, and QQ Speed Mobile. During the earnings call on Wednesday, Tencent CSO James Mitchell said that the move could aid future monetization since “players who buy the season pass generally engage with the game more.”
On the recent controversial transformation of China’s PUBG Mobile into Game for Peace, CFO John Lo said, “For a new game it’s actually a very successful launch,” adding that “at the current time we are much more focused on making sure we retain customers” than monetization. On Monday, analytics firm Sensor Tower reported that the game had racked up $14 million in revenue within 72 hours of its launch.
Tencent’s online advertising revenue grew 25% year on year in the first quarter to RMB 13.4 billion. The slower rate of growth compared to last year was attributed to a difficult macro environment.
Social and other ad revenue rose slightly faster at a 34% growth rate, reaching RMB 9.9 billion. Tencent attributed the rise to increased monetization of mega app WeChat’s Moments newsfeed and mini-programs, and QQ’s Kandian.
While total monthly active user (MAU) count for WeChat worldwide remained relatively stable at 1.1 billion users, Tencent’s older social network QQ saw something of a renaissance in certain user segments. QQ’s Q1 MAU figures reached 823 million, including double-digit year-on-year growth among “young users.”