China’s Cyberspace Administration has revealed its plans to launch a campaign rectifying the country’s mobile app "chaos".
Aiming to confront the supposed disorder in app searches, rankings, app usage and more, new guidelines have been released via WeChat.
As reported by South China Morning Post, the Cyberspace Administration’s WeChat account noted the prevalence of fake apps, the illegal collection of data from users and the spread of "harmful information". While not specified in the context of gaming apps, the post specifically noting a problem with "excessive pop-up ads" may have ramifications for the already turbulent future of mobile games and revenue in China.
Currently, penalties for violating the new rules are unknown, with app distributors being responsible for correcting problems. However, the Cyberspace Administration has threatened to "implement those measures forcefully" if it has to.
The volume of apps has been decreasing already in China, with almost one million ceasing operations last year alone. By the end of June 2022, a total of 2.32 million apps were still in operation in China, representing an eight percent fall compared to the close of 2021. Looking back further, this is more than a 50 percent decrease compared to 2018.
In China, all games have to be checked for content and certified by various organisations before they can be released and there was a freeze on new game licences in the country between July 2021 and April 2022, after which time licences were finally granted to 45 games from companies including XD Inc, Yoozoo Games, and iDreamSky. Meanwhile in a similarly vague vein to the new Cyberspace Administration regulations, mobile games released in China must "highlight correct values".
This spring, Chinese megacorp Tencent also shut down a service allowing China-based gamers access to overseas platforms to play online games. The company has since lost its status as China’s largest company, with stock prices falling by 64 percent from its peak in January 2021.