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Approvals Signal an End to China’s Gaming Crackdown

Government approval of licences for 45 foreign video games in December is seen as a significant boost for the sector and gaming giants such as Tencent and Netease

China gives publishing licences to 45 foreign video games for release in the country on Wednesday.
Teenagers play games at an internet cafe in Fuyang in China's Anhui province in August 2018. File photo by Reuters.


Approvals of imported foreign games by China’s online gaming regulator appear to signal the end of the government’s crackdown on the video games industry.

The National Press and Publication Administration gave publishing licences to 45 foreign video games for release in the country on Wednesday.

The move lifts rigid curbs that have hammered the gaming sector for the past year and a half – since August 2021 when officials suspended the game approval process.

The imported online games including “Pokémon Unite” by Nintendo and card game “Gwent: The Witcher Card Game” by CD Projekt, according to a list it released.

The regulator also approved 84 domestic games for the month of December, according to another list released on Wednesday.


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Regulators resumed issuing game licences to homegrown games in April, and the approval of foreign games was seen as the last regulatory curb to be removed.

Unlike in most other countries, video games need approval from regulators before release in China, the world’s largest gaming market.

Beijing’s year-long crackdown on the industry has dealt a significant blow to Chinese tech companies including Tencent Holdings and NetEase, which derive substantial revenue from publishing both self-developed and imported games.

Pokémon Unite is the biggest imported title on the list that has received a publishing licence.

Co-created by Nintendo and Tencent, the game was first released on the Nintendo Switch outside of China on July last year. The game had surpassed 50 million downloads by the end of last December, according to Tencent.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard




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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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