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Top Chinese official removed following gaming crackdown confusion

Top publicity official Feng Shixin has been relieved of his duty after the release of work-in-progress tighter gaming regulations wiped $80 billion from top Chinese gaming stocks
Top Chinese official removed following gaming crackdown confusion
  • Following the stock market knee-jerk and international interest and response, the blame for the uproar has landed with the officials responsible for getting the message out
  • The proposals range from the banning of rewards for daily logins to outlawing of some gacha mechanics which form the core of some of China’s biggest games
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It seems that the confusion and worry around a heavyweight new change to Chinese gaming regulations just continues to rumble on as the Chinese government has now removed an official at the governing body responsible for overseeing press and public relations.

When news of the upcoming regulations broke $80 billion was wiped off the stock value of gaming giants such as NetEase and Tencent. This despite the fact that the new regulations do not have a definite introductory date (the proposed month and date for the law's passing are currently XXX’d out in the draft) and - in theory - may never actually come to pass (or at least in the draconian form in which they currently reside).

However, following the stock market knee-jerk and international interest and response, the blame for the uproar has landed with the officials responsible for getting the message out rather than those who proposed the changes in the first place.

Yesterday - following those share price drops - Chinese officials were keen to press the point that rather than being a done deal, an in-depth consultation with the industry and users was in progress and that the January 22 deadline mentioned was a closing date for these discussions and counter-proposals rather than a date that any new regulations would be introduced.

Today it seems that - taking an extra step to get the right message out - one official who they feel was responsible for the confusion, has been relieved of their post.

The buck stops here

Reuters are reporting that Feng Shixin - a known figure who has often represented the government’s will to regulate the reach and effects of video games with the country - has been removed last week from his position as head of the publishing unit of the Communist Party's Publicity Department. The department oversees the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) which in turn regulates China's games sector.

At the time of writing Feng remains unavailable for comment and the sources feeding Reuters with the news have declined to be identified as authorities are yet to officially announce Feng's departure.

The far reaching new legislative proposals come after a period of calm between the Chinese government and its incumbent gaming giants with ever increasing numbers of licences being released (approving the new release of new games) and confidence returning to investors seeking a continuation of the sector’s pandemic-fuelled growth.

The proposals range from the banning of rewards for daily logins to placing limits on the amounts that users can spend to the outlawing of some gacha mechanics which notably form the core of some of China’s biggest games.

Uncertainty returns

Most of all however, it was the suprise that - after a return to prosperity - that unclear and potentially damaging legislation may still quickly be brought to bear, that has provided the most concern to game makers and their investors.

As to whether it was a simple messaging issue and that Feng’s removal will calm the storm, remains to be seen. But right now investor and media interest remains firmly focused on the proposals and which, if any, will pass into law following the consultancy period's end later this month.

Photo by Alexander Grey on Unsplash