The huge gaming market in China has been quiet for months. Now new rules have been introduced that require games to be played if they want to license China. It looks like the government is pulling the reins.
That was the situation for a long time: for many years, China was regarded as a virgin “gold mine” for game developers from the West. A huge market that wanted to be developed.
However, to earn money in games in China, you need a “license ” granted by a Chinese government agency. It was not really clear under which rules the license was granted.
It has long been the practice for Western companies to seek a Chinese partner to obtain a license:
- Blizzard worked with NetEase and changed games like Diablo 3 or WoW to get a license
- Many other companies have partnered with Tencent, a giant corporation
If a foreign company, such as the Koreans of Bluehole at PUBG, seemed to refuse to cooperate with a Chinese company, there was a quick ban on it because the game did not conform to “socialist values.”
The Western companies believed that the big Chinese companies have so much influence over the government that you are sure to be in trouble when working with them. After all, they sat in the committees.
That was the turning point: in 2018 there was a significant change. The Chinese government changed its attitude to video games.
It was feared that mobile games in particular could shortsight the “youth of the country”.
It is probably also the fear behind it, the children could become addicted. In particular, “Arena of Valor,” a mobile version of LoL, made headlines in China that people are completely indulging their gaming addictions, like a kind of digital opium.
The company behind the game, Tencent, wanted to give in to Arena of Valor with self-imposed restrictions, but it was too late.
China issued a “Stop” in August 2018: no new games were allowed. The market value of China companies like Tencent collapsed then, as games like “Monster Hunter World” suddenly could not come on the market.
These are the new rules. Meanwhile, nine months later, the Chinese government agency has introduced a new process to allow games. Here it is clear that you tighten the reins:
- It is said that one wants to control the number of newly admitted games
- There should be fewer variants of poker and mahjong online – in 2017, 37% of the 8,561 licensed games were variants of poker and mahjong
- In addition, there should be new “anti-addiction measures” – which should limit how much time and money you can spend in games
- Browser games must now be approved as well as other games
- The new “Online and Gaming” committee decides if games are in line with the “social values” of China
- Blood is completely forbidden – it is no longer enough to change the color
- Corpses may no longer be shown
- Games can not deal with the imperial history of China – it’s obviously about two genres “gongdou”, intrigue in the harem, and “guandou”, palace intrigues. Both popular settings in China, which occur in TV series (via techcrunch ) – it’s obviously about sex and corruption in politics, you do not want that in China.
- The registration process becomes more concrete. The companies have to submit more detailed information about their game in advance
In addition, developers are encouraged to present Chinese values and culture in a way that puts China in a favorable light. This is to make sure that China is doing well if the game is an international success.
Why is China doing this? According to Feng Shixin, Deputy Director of the Publishing Bureau of the Central Propaganda Department, online games in China would cost $ 30 billion a year. China has 600 million players. (via Venturebeat )
The gaming industry grew so fast that the country’s rules could not keep up.
What effect do the new rules have? Experts believe that the limit on the admission of new games, especially “smaller studios” in China hard hit, which are not yet established in the market.
Smaller studios may also find it difficult to adapt to the new rules. It might be hard for them to stamp out “anti-addiction” measures, as Tencent has already done.
Many teams without financial cushions would have already kills the months-long stop, as Asia expert Daniel Ahmad told Techcrunch .