It can be difficult to get the latest news from China, given how locked off it can be for the rest of the world, but we're making it a little bit easier with our weekly round-up of the biggest stories from the region.
We're working with Junxue Li, CEO of Beijing-based 2D art firm Sunny Painter, to bring the most interesting news from China to you, so you can stay informed of what's happening in one of the biggest markets in the world.
This week, we're looking at Apple finally cracking down on developers without an ISBN, and the amazing production values at the King Pro League...
Apple's ultimatum to game developers confirmed
According to leading Chinese game media Gamelook's June 17th report, it's confirmed that Apple will fully comply to the Chinese authority's ISBN policy. After the deadline of June 30th, new games without licenses will not be listed in the App Store.
The policy will be strictly enforced on new games. However, regarding how Apple would deal with games already in the store, we are still waiting for updates. Undoubtedly, it's a more complicated issue with these revenue-generating games.
And we should note, the policy only applies to these games: paid games, games with in-app purchases, and games promoted by ads of any type. So those free hypercasual games without in-app purchases are not governed by this policy, and they can carry ads to generate revenue, albeit they themselves could not be advertised.
The new policy is a big blessing to those games/developers who have already obtained licenses, who will have a large number of contenders removed from the arena. However, it's bad news to domestic and foreign indie developers alike - they must either work with a big Chinese publisher, or turn to making hypercasual games. Thus the era of self-publishing has come to an end.
AG beats TS 4:3 in KPL spring season final game
King Pro League (KPL) is the highest-level professional tournament for Arena of Valor in China. On June 13th, AG beat TS 4:3 in the KPL spring season final game, which was held in Shanghai KPL Esports Center.
Due to the special situation, the final game was fought in a real esports stadium with no audience present. At the same time, the viewers of the final reached a new record high on all major live streaming platforms, with the total number over 10 million.
Besides the game, there were many points of interests in the event. For example, players were ushered in with stunning, blended AR effects, and the live head images of thousands of "audiences on the cloud" were projected to the gigantic screen.
During the halftime show, top Chinese dancers Li Xing, Hu Yang, Yu Jianwei, Sun Ke, and Su Peng played the five Tigers in the mobile game respectively in the wonderful Chinese dance "Five Tigers Admiral", to the symphony by Tan Dun, the Oscar-winning composer.
This was the first time the final game had been live streamed by state-run China International Television (CGTN) in English to audiences around the world.
Genshin Impact starts 3rd round of open testing
Last week, open world mobile action game Genshin Impact (原神) started its 3rd round of open testing, introducing new content. It;s a highly anticipated game that in this round of testing has gathered over 5 million pre-regs.
The game takes place in a fantasy world where those chosen by the gods are given the "eye of god" to wield an elemental power. Players assume a mysterious role named "traveler" in a free journey to meet different companions with unique abilities, joining together with them to defeat strong enemies, reunite with lost family, and gradually discover the truth of the "Gehshin".
The game is developed and published by MiHoYo. It has obtained a license for PS4, and it's expected to land on all platforms.
Currently major publishers are aspiring to tap into open world mobile games - besides MiHoYo, Tencent, NetEase, and Perfect World all have titles in different development stages.
Perfect World unveils its own open world mobile game
Last week Perfect World unveiled a demo for Tower of Fantasy (幻塔), an open world mobile action game in development. The game is developed with UE4 and the demo is captured in the run-time game without pre-rendered sequences, so we can get a closer look of the game.
The game is set in a post-apocalypse alien world where people in different groups struggle against each other and find a way to contain the energy source which had brought forth destruction.
The game is developed by Hotta Studio, and the developer has revealed that the main star is 40% completed, and we may expect the first round of open testing soon.
Tencent rolls out Juvenile Protection System 3.0
On June 17th, Tencent announced that it had upgraded its Juvenile Protection System to V3.0. The most important update is the introduction of face recognition, to prevent minors logging into games with their parents' identities.
In the login process, for adult accounts suspected to be operated by minors, face recognition verification will be required. And users who refuse or fail to pass the verification will be subject to the restrictions set to juvenile users. Regarding micro-transactions, for dubious users who have spent more than 400 yuan in a month, the same procedure is required too.
This new feature had already been trialed in Arena of Valor and Game for Peace, and will be implemented to all of Tencent's games shortly.
Formerly, Tencent and other major publishers in China were already entangled in a huge number of complaints over juveniles making big spending in-game without informing parents.
Popular anime tower defense game Arknights meets a "western" rip-off
Recently, acclaimed anime tower defense game Arknights (明日方舟) appeared to have been ripped-off.
The game is called War of Embers, and was by developer ALITAA and released globally. The game highly resembles Arknight in its battle mechanism, arena design and data processing. Other features are very close to the original game - for exampl,e every character has a prototype in the original, and the style of level select screen is quite similar.
The rip-off was disguised with a new graphic style, which is 3D graphics in Western style. And it's speculated that it probably came from a well-founded Chinese studio, rather than a Western one. Now the game has been removed from Google Play.