China may be the biggest games market in the world right now but stiff regulations have led to no new game approvals since March 28th.
As reported by the South China Morning Post, a new regulatory body was formed in March - the State Administration of Radio and Television - as part of the ruling government’s bid to monitor and control the content the public gets its hands on.
There doesn’t appear to be a specific reason for the months-long suspension, however.
No end in sight
While new titles have been released during this time, including NetEase’s successful horror title Identity V, these games were approved and given licenses prior to the suspension.
There’s no indication of when new games will start being approved again and whether the rules for publishing may once again change.
Developers are already required to obtain a licence to launch a mobile game in the country. International developers and publishers must also partner with a local company, or set up a local operation, to release in the region.
It’s a process that can take months - when approvals are open.
According to Beijing research firm CNG and Chinese games trade body GPC, the local games market grew by five per cent to $15 billion in the first half of 2018.
While an impressive figure, that is said to be the first single-digit growth seen in the market since at least 2009.
It’s possible that the suspension is in place while a government crackdown by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism takes place to clear our rule breakers on the country’s app stores.
We reported back in March that online games portal TapTap was slapped with a fine and had its services suspended for three months for violating games publishing laws in the country.
Our own industry insiders said this wasn’t the only case and that these investigations were happening across the market. Companies affected included Tencent, Xiaomi, 360, IM30, MOKI and more.
Previously it was reported that the body had inspected more than 4,900 livestreaming apps and removed 370 of them from the stores breaking rules. Major players such as Douyu and Huya were also under investigation at the time.