Millions in China banish virus feels with online games

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Millions in China banish virus feels with online games

Online games and short video apps have been among the few beneficiaries of China’s virus outbreak, raking in millions of views and downloads as people stuck in self-quarantine at home seek entertainment and ways to beguile their time.

The shift has even drawn companies more used to doing business in showrooms, such as carmakers Tesla (TSLA.O) and Mercedes-Benz (DAIGn.DE), to promote products heavily online during the week.

Chinese travel and gather with family and friends during the traditional Lunar New Year holiday, but many postponed or canceled their plans over concerns sparked in mid-January about the spread of a new virus that has killed 420.

“I only use my mobile phone for three hours a day at work, but at least eight hours every day during the Spring Festival, because it’s so boring,” Lu Zhang, a junior high school teacher in eastern Shandong province, said of the enforced holiday.

Investors have seized on the trend, with shares of Chinese game publishers, such as Tencent (0700.HK), rising 2% in Hong Kong on Tuesday, outstripping a rise of 1% in the benchmark .HSI, while in New York, NetEase (NTES.O) rose nearly 3%.

U.S.-listed shares in Chinese video platform Bilibili (BILI.O) rose almost 7%, while shares of search engine Baidu (BIDU.O) and e-commerce giant Alibaba (BABA.N) also rose.

Five mobile game developers, including Ourpalm (300315.SZ), surged by the maximum allowed 10% on Tuesday.

Weekly downloads jumped 77% on ByteDance’s Xigua video app from Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, after it announced plans to stream the premiere of a movie, “Lost in Russia” for free, data from performance tracker App Annie showed.

“My screen time yesterday exceeded 10 hours,” one Shanghai resident, identified only as Wang, said in a social media post, adding, “What do you all suggest I do other than look at my cellphone?”

Also popular are health and fitness apps, such as Keep, which livestreams fitness classes. Its revenue surged 15% for the week, while healthcare app Pingan Good Doctor saw downloads jump 1,186%.

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