China blocks new game approvals again as it strives to clear extensive backlog

As many as 5,000 games could be awaiting the greenlight

China blocks new game approvals again as it strives to clear extensive backlog

The road to releasing games in China could be even longer for some after its top regulator asked local authorities nationwide to halt new submissions on approvals for new titles.

Reuters reports “three people with knowledge of the matter” as stating no new games will be monetised while the General Administration of Press and Publications works its way through an extensive backlog.

It’s reported that as many as 5,000 games are still awaiting approval.

For some perspective, in January to March last year 1,982 games were said to have been approved. Throughout the whole of 2017, 9,651 titles were given the greenlight.

Will they, won't they?

China had previously halted game approvals for nine months until December 2018 while the new regulator completed reforms and fresh guidelines were drawn up. But that long freeze meant a large backlog of titles needed approval.

While the freeze is back on for new games, companies can still submit their titles for approval. However, they will not be sent to the regulator while it deals with the current batch of thousands of titles.

It’s not clear how long this process will take. Niko Partners managing partner Lisa Cosmas Hanson said she hoped the halt was “merely procedural and the licensing process will return to normal swiftly”.

The news will be disappointing for a games industry that had just begun recovering from the previous freeze. In September 2018, Tencent’s value had dropped by some $20 billion following news of fresh incoming restrictions on the game smarket.

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Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.