July 18, 2018 / 8:36 AM / 2 months ago

Google launches game on Tencent's Wechat as it eyes China market

BEIJING (Reuters) - Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Wednesday it has launched an artificial intelligence (AI) game on Tencent Holdings Ltd social media app WeChat, as the company continues to show tentative signs of re-entering China’s consumer market.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

The U.S. technology firm has been experimenting with new inroads to the China, where the majority of it products including its internet search engine, email and app store are blocked by Chinese authorities over censorship concerns.

Last year, Google launched its ‘Google Translate’ app in China, and in May it added a file management app to several app stores run by local Chinese firms, a first for the company.

The latest product, Caihua Xiaoge, is a drawing game based on Google’s AI image recognition technology, and is a WeChat ‘mini app’, which works only within Tencent’s WeChat. Several foreign firms, including Starbucks Corp, have also launched mini apps.

Google in January announced a patent licensing deal with Tencent with the intention of collaborating further in the Chinese market. Last month, the U.S. firm also invested $550 million in JD.com Inc, China’s second most valuable e-commerce firm which also counts Tencent as an investor.

While it is unlikely Google will be able to open its global search engine in China, the firm is experimenting with less controversial projects in the market. In January it participated in a $120 million investment round by live-stream mobile game platform Chushou.

Reporting by Cate CadellEditing by Christopher Cushing

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