Since December 2018 China started approving new licenses (ICP Certificate) for video games.
But the government has also released new guidelines on how to obtain these licenses, which are essential for operating on the highly controlled Chinese market.
From now on, games must include anti-addiction systems.
Three types of video games will no longer be allowed, namely video games of Mahjong and poker (1), titles based on the imperial past of China (2) and games showing blood or corpses (3).
Gambling and Mahjong
The Chinese government has issued these measures to protect local youth from exposure to violence and gambling.
While in 2017, 37% of approved licenses (mainly games derived from mahjong) fell into the category of online gambling games, in 2018 the number of total licenses approved was very low, following the complete stop to the release of licenses for new video games.
The stop had crippled industry giants like Tencent.
Green Blood and Imperial schemes
The blood in video games had already been banned, but developers had managed to circumvent the ban by changing the color.
With the new rules, it is no longer permitted.
Games inspired by the Chinese imperial past such as “gongdou” which directly translates to harem scheming, and “guandou”, a term for official political competitions have been forbidden.
The imperial past has always been a source of inspiration for TV series or films, but it has also often been seen as a possible political metaphor for criticizing the regime or is criticized for obscene content.
Last year the Chinese government formed an Ethics Commission for Online Games, with the aim of check which titles are “healthy and beneficial” and which ones can raise social problems.
According to a developer reached by Techcrunch, the rules introduced now should not particularly damage Tencent or NetEase, which run games like PUBG, World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Monster Hunter: World, but will probably end up hitting smaller developers.