China Bans Livestreaming of “Unauthorised” Games After Recently Resuming Approval of Game Licences
China announced on Friday, 15 April, that it's enforcing new regulations prohibiting citizens of the country from livestreaming "unauthorised" games, continuing its campaign to rid the internet of content the government does not approve of.
The National Radio and Television Administration said all platforms in the country are banned from streaming games the government has yet to sign off on, particularly overseas games or competitions. Streamers must also resist "abnormal aesthetics" and harmful celebrity fan culture, according to Reuters.
"For a period of time, issues such as chaotic online livestreaming and teenage addiction to games have raised widespread concerns in society and effective measures need to be taken urgently," said the regulator.
Game industry analyst Daniel Ahmad points out that games in China need a licence from the government before they can be sold or streamed. Despite this, there are a number of unlicenced games that have managed to skirt censors and find an audience in the country via livestreams on popular platforms like DouYu and Huya . However, that could all soon change as the government now plans to become stricter in enforcing these regulations.
The move comes just a few days after Chinese authorities resumed video game licencing in the country, breaking an eight-month-long lull in new approvals. The National Press and Publication Administration, the government agency responsible for licencing games, published a list of 45 new approved titles on 11 April. This was reportedly the first batch of approvals since July of last year when regulators were preparing to limit the playtime of the country's youth in an effort to curb addiction.
The regulations have put increased pressure on China's gaming industry. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that Tencent, the largest game publisher in the world, has announced it would be terminating its game speed booster apps that help gamers in China access foreign games. The Chinese entertainment and tech conglomerate also announced it has shut down game streaming platform Penguin Esports. In line with this, the company's revenue from streaming could take a hit, with it also owning the aforementioned DouYu and Huya, where livestreams of unapproved games have become popular.
NetEase, another Chinese company with a significant stake in the gaming industry, is also affected by the regulations. None of the new approved titles were published by the company. There aren't any from Tencent or foreign titles as well.
Smaller developers and publishers are even more affected by the slowdown in new approvals, as SCMP notes. Over 14,000 studios and video game-related companies have shuttered their doors in the five months from July 2021, the last time new games were approved.
While the recent approvals is a good sign and adds to the games that citizens in the country can play, the government isn't likely to ease up or backtrack its stance against gaming anytime soon. So the best these game companies can do right now is to perhaps weather the storm as best they can.
China announced it's enforcing new regulations prohibiting citizens of the country from livestreaming "unauthorised" games just a few days after resuming approval of game licenses.
For games to be distributed and streamed in China, they need to have a licence from the government. Some unlicenced games, however, have managed to skirt censors and find an audience via livestreams on popular internet platforms. And regulators are now taking action against it.
These new regulations could have an effect on a lot of game companies' bottom lines, including Tencent, which recently terminated its game speed booster apps, a service that helped Chinese gamers play unlicenced foreign games.