China approves third batch of video games; still no Tencent

Published: January 22, 2019
People play in a video games hall during a night out in Shanghai February 23, 2008.

People play in a video games hall during a night out in Shanghai February 23, 2008. PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: China’s broadcasting regulator on Tuesday approved the release of the third batch of video games after a freeze for most of last year, with industry-leader Tencent Holdings still absent from the list of new titles.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television approved 93 games in its third list since December. It last approved 84 games earlier this month.

Tencent’s domestic rival NetEase was also absent from the list for the third time.

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China is home to the world’s largest video game market, where 620 million players spent $37.9 billion last year mostly on mobile and PC games, showed data from gaming market researcher Newzoo.

But authorities stopped approving the release of new titles from March last year amid a regulatory overhaul triggered by growing concern about violent content and game addiction, particularly among young players.

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Tencent’s share price subsequently tumbled, wiping billions of dollars from the stock’s market value. The shares are still down as much as 20 per cent compared with before the freeze and were trading more than 1 per cent lower on Tuesday.

Tencent, the country’s market leader in terms of gaming revenue, both produces and distributes games. Its fantasy multi-player role-playing battle game, Honour of Kings, is the top-grossing mobile game in China.

In 2017, it announced it would bring South Korea’s “PlayerUnknown’s Battleground” to China, the world’s best-selling game at the time. However, it has yet to receive a license that would allow it to monetize the game though it has altered the content to meet China’s strict rules on violence and gore.

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