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61 new overseas licence approvals in China bring the total to two-thirds of 2023

15 overseas licences were granted in May, including Mario, Pokémon, and Valorant. Now at two-thirds of 2023 with half the year to go
61 new overseas licence approvals in China bring the total to two-thirds of 2023
  • 15 overseas video games were approved for licences in China this May
  • Mobile games Valorant and Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage were among the approved titles

A total of 15 overseas video games were approved for licences in China last month, bringing the year’s total to 61 thus far.

The approved titles are a mix of mobile and console, some of which released to the rest of the world years ago, like 2018’s Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and 2021’s Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury on Nintendo Switch.

On smartphones, a mobile version of Valorant has been approved following the PC version’s successful launch in China last July, described by Tencent as its "most important game published in 2023", as reported by South China Morning Post.

Back on course

Developed by Tencent-owned Riot Games, Valorant comes attached to the name and reputation of one of China’s biggest companies. Tencent is also the Switch’s official Chinese distributor, while its subsidiary TiMi Studio develops the MOBA game Pokémon Unite with The Pokémon Company.

The National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) also approved Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage this May, a Sega-published rhythm game from Japan, developed by Colorful Palette. Nuverse will operate the title in China, just as Zhang Yunfan has stepped into the CEO role at the gaming unit.

In fact, Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage was approved within days of Nuverse parent ByteDance’s change of direction; the social media giant loudly proclaimed plans to pull out of games this spring, instead wanting to focus its attention on TikTok, and was selling off game studios as recently as a month ago.

Then, late into May, Yunfan was hired and video games are suddenly back on the menu - meaning Hatsune Miku: Colorful Stage got its approval.

This batch of 15 licences has helped push the year’s total to 61, almost two-thirds of 2023’s 98 overseas approvals. While not every month has seen foreign licence approvals this year - only February, April, and May have - the current rate does seem set to overtake last year’s total, in what’s proving to be a better year for gaming in China than it appeared at the outset (with a ban plan since overturned).