China, the largest gaming market, has not approved any video game licenses for at least four months due to President Xi Jinping’s recent government shake up (read: power consolidation), reports Bloomberg.
Although China is notoriously stringent with media censorship, this game licensing freeze is taking the vetting process one step further.
Unnamed sources told Bloomberg that officials are concerned over sex and violence displayed in these games, and it’s been impacting games across all platforms: console, online, and even mobile.
The National Radio and Television Administration (the agency that grants game licenses) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (the agency that lays out game registration procedures) command the game approval, and both are tightening the process after undergoing personnel changes and restructuring earlier this year.
Companies of all sizes — from Chinese-based multinational gaming giant Tencent to fledgling developers — are all impacted by this ban. Tencent just suffered a profit drop (the first after a decade of nonstop growth) and smaller companies cannot get their names out.
“We don’t think that the regulation will impact the sector forever,” Shawn Yang, the executive director for Hong Kong-based investment advisement firm Blue Lotus, said on Bloomberg Television today.
“China’s whole online gaming industry is having some issues — not only because of regulation but also because Chinese gamers are becoming more mature and selective.”
Video games in China have also been criticized for communicating non-socialist ideals (conflicting with the president’s repeated mantra of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”), so the future of video games in China remains uncertain.
The biggest game of the year Fortnite can’t even be accessed online at the moment there, and others like Monster Hunter are embroiled in controversy. Sigh.
The government is always freezing our fun.