- China seems to be fighting the “spiritual opium” of video gaming on all fronts
- The country has not issued a single license to a video game developer since July 2021
- There is little local companies or the country’s 720 million gamers can do to stop this
The crackdown in video gaming in China begins. The National Press and Publication Administration has not issued new licenses to a video game developer since July 2021.
Video Game Developers Not Welcome
China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) has not issued any licenses since July 2021, effectively not allowing any new video game developers to launch in the country. The war on video gaming stems from a centralized governmental approach which sees video gaming as a waste of the nation youths’ time and a hindrance to reaching their full potential.
It turns out that the multi-pronged approach against video gaming by regulators and Beijing has not let up. The country introduced a near-ban on video gaming for individuals younger than 18. All of this event has led to the unambiguous understanding that China is nowhere near as welcoming to video gaming as it is given credit for.
The country is particularly vexing for the country’s 720 million gamers who are not happy with those developments. In fact, many have been actively looking for workaround solutions. In esports, though, official organizations have dropped their minor players as they wish to continue operating in the country. However, with now home-grown talent, China will struggle to stay competitive in electronic sports.
With the NPPA withholding licenses, China is slowly but decisively withdrawing from the global gaming markets. This puts a crimp on esports as well as general video gaming, which has been dubbed “spiritual opium” and is at odds with President Xi Jinping’s outlook for his country.
The Great Firewall Engulfs Video Gaming
While the NPPA has kept mostly silent about why no new licenses have been issued, and publishers such as Tencent have avoided criticizing the government’s stance, it’s clear that Beijing has no intention of slowing down.
The ruling party has used its mouthpieces to describe video gaming in a language reminiscent of the way western pundits associated gaming with violence in the past, conveniently ignoring the fact that anyone in the United States can own a gun, and often without any background checks, for example.
Minors can now play only three hours a week and China has not been timid about buffeting Tencent with counter-intuitive requirements that saw Tencent and Alibaba, an e-commerce giant, lose $330 billion in market value because of the tightening control over their sectors.
This is doubly surprising given that western gaming and internet companies are thriving, and partly why many of Tencent’s subsidiaries are focusing more dedicatedly to the western market. However, going west is hollow succor for companies that are used to operating in a country that lives and breathes gaming.
Alas, China is not anywhere near happy with video gaming, and this will have immense repercussions on the industry. To what extent, only time will show.