China sets out new rules for approval in world’s biggest video game market
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China sets out new rules for approval in world’s biggest video game market

The world’s largest video game market has just set out new rules to get titles approved for sale. Chinese authorities put a halt on new titles last year, and regulators have been applying scrutiny ever since. Now that period’s come to an end – great news for anyone interested in video games, as China is undoubtedly the world’s biggest and most-lucrative market.

An April 19 press release from The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (the body responsible for oversight of the video game industry) set out the documentation and processes required to get approval for video games in the country. Some of these regulations concern safety, ethics, and the creeping fear amongst Beijing policy-makers that, with video games, they’re allowing a cultural blight into the country.

Last year, fears were raised that video games could become addictive, and lead to a host of problems amongst young players. Some of this was similar to the kind of “moral panic” seen in the west which accompanies the spread of all new media: centuries ago, people worried that children reading too many novels would rot their brain – decades ago, it was television. More recently, violence in video games and music has led people to question – with no evidence – whether they might be responsible for mass shootings and other atrocities.

But, these obvious panics aside, Beijing did raise concerns over gaming that could lead to more sensible industry regulation globally. These include the ethical dimension of some of the more addictive practises used to drive engagement, and the effect that regular heavy use of video games could have on eyesight into adulthood.

The concrete guidelines will help game developers and publishers to move forward in China. Regulators have said roughly 5,000 games will be approved this year, with “low quality copycat, poker and mah-jong games” pegged as the least likely to win approval.

Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at Chinese games researcher Niko Partners, described the announcement as “extremely important,” adding: “With a new more transparent approval process set to go live soon, we have a positive outlook for China’s digital games market in 2019.” Analysts at Jeffries Hong Kong and elsewhere agree.


Dominion holds a number of companies exposed to the trend towards video games in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.

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