Chinese game licence approvals surpassed 1,000 in 2023 in return to form

The total more than doubled 2022’s approval numbers

Chinese game licence approvals surpassed 1,000 in 2023 in return to form

In a remarkable finale to 2023 (and a move directly opposed to the threat of further legislation elsewhere) China’s regulatory body signed off 105 new video games in December, making it the only month of the year to see authorisations reach triple digits.

This figure marks the highest seen in a single month since July 2022 and surpasses 2023’s prior high of 89 approvals, pushing the total for the year above 1,000.

A mostly successful year…

According to South China Morning Post, December rounded off 2023 with 105 new licences for Chinese games plus 98 imported titles. Approved titles included Tencent’s Assault Fire: Future and NetEase’s Lost Light and Sifangyuzhishi, just three of the total 1,076 games granted licences last year - almost exactly as Niko Partners predicted.

More than doubling 2022’s 512 approvals, the jump came as a result of 12 very consistent months, in a return to form in many ways. After all, 2023 started off strong with 88 approvals in January including the year's most important new game for China, Honkai: Star Rail, which raced to $500 million in revenue in a matter of months.

Licence approvals remained consistent until a peak of 89 in June that was only outmatched in December. And licences were predominantly granted to mobile games - the most popular platform for play in the country - with July’s mobile turnout representing 86% of 88 approved games. By October, more than half of the Chinese population were playing video games.

Though monthly approvals remained lower than pre-pandemic levels, domestic revenues from games reached record-breaking levels of over $42 billion for the year. This affirmed China’s renewed support for gaming, returned after years of inconsistency…

But legislation in China is anything but predictable, and the improved year that was 2023 has been instantly undercut by the news of another gaming crackdown in the last week. After seemingly opening the gates, China has moves afoot to outlaw log-in bonuses, loot boxes, and gacha mechanics - regulations that have already caused Tencent and NetEase’s value to plummet by a massive $80 billion.

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Aaron is the News Editor at and has an honours degree in Creative Writing.
Having spent far too many hours playing Pokémon, he's now on a quest to be the very best like no one ever putting words in the right order.