China announced on Friday that live streaming of unlicensed video games is prohibited, signaling a tightening of regulations as part of a broader assault on the gaming sector aimed at removing content the government does not approve of.
Platforms of all kinds, according to the National Radio and Television Administration, must not Livestream games that have not been approved by relevant authorities.
It claimed that live broadcasting of international sports or contests should be done only with permission, and that live streamers should avoid “abnormal aesthetics” and detrimental celebrity fan culture.
“For a long time, issues such as chaotic internet live streaming and young game addiction have caused widespread worry in society, and appropriate actions must be adopted promptly,” the regulator wrote on its website.
While unlicensed games could not be legally distributed in mainland China, many were marketed on live streaming platforms such as Huya Inc, DouYu International Holdings, and Bilibili Inc, according to Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at research company Niko Partners.
“Despite not having a license, Elden Ring was a hit on Chinese gaming live streaming platforms earlier this year, hitting 17.1 million total daily average views,” he claimed.
Last year, China enacted new regulations limiting the amount of time under the age of 18 can spend playing video games to three hours per week, claiming that the measure was required to combat gaming addiction.
It also imposed a licensing freeze, which was only lifted last week after gambling companies made significant changes to their business procedures.
Companies have been told to remove aggressive information, celebrate money, or promote celebrity worship.
It was unclear how this latest prohibition would affect the stocks of big Chinese gaming and live streaming companies. The Hong Kong stock exchange was closed for a holiday on Friday, while Huya and DouYu were listed in the United States.
According to Charles Yu, head of law firm Pillar Legal’s Shanghai office, the restriction “may have a considerable impact on game companies if it is strictly enforced.”