China green-lights publishing 45 international games

For the first time since August 2021, China’s video games regulator has approved the publishing licences of 45 international games, including Pokemon Unite, Don’t Starve, and Valorant.

As well as the games developed by studios outside of China, 84 domestic games have also been given the green light in China, which Reuters calls “the world’s largest gaming market”.

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Chinese megacorps like Tencent and NetEase are amongst those receiving approval, with the former reportedly securing licences for six of its games in December.

It’s less than the number of games approved in 2021 – just 76 imported games got the go ahead last year – but it’s been seen as “an important signal towards policy normalisation for the industry”, according to Reuters.

It follows news earlier this month that China believes it has solved the issue of young people growing addicted to video games.

It’s a significant step forward, not least because earlier this year, China stepped up its regulations around streaming games after some fans were able to view games China deems as “unauthorised” – such as Elden Ring – via Chinese streaming platforms, even though many were not available to buy in the country. Even seemingly innocent titles like Animal Crossing: New Horizons have been in the crosshairs after it was used by Hong Kong protesters and others to create politically sensitive user-generated content.

Chinese government agency The National Radio and Television Administration justified the move by insisting that “for a period of time, issues such as chaotic online livestreaming and teenage addiction to games have raised widespread concerns in society and effective measures need to be taken urgently”.

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