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Chinese Regulators Approve 89 New Games for Sale, Boosting World's Largest Gaming Market

Updated: Jan 5

China's gaming industry sees momentum as regulators greenlight 89 new video games, including titles from Youzu Interactive and NetEase.

Video Games
Credit: Shutterstock

Chinese regulators granted approval for the sale of 89 new video games in June, signalling the continued growth of the world's largest gaming market. Major players like Youzu Interactive and NetEase are among those who secured licenses, according to the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), the agency responsible for game licensing in China. This month's batch is the largest of the year, offering an optimistic outlook for the industry.

The NPPA released its latest list of approvals on Wednesday, attracting significant attention as it includes the largest number of titles approved in a single batch this year. The numbers have held particular significance since the end of an eight-month licensing freeze in April 2022.

Notably absent from this month's list is Tencent Holdings, the operator of the world's leading revenue-generating video gaming business. Tencent received a new license last month but failed to secure any approvals this time. In contrast, NetEase, the second-largest gaming company in China, made the cut with its Yanyun Sixteen Sounds, obtaining a license for both mobile and personal computers. NetEase experienced a strong start to the year, reporting a surge of 53.7% in net profits during the first quarter.

Among the approved titles, Crimson Echo, a mobile game developed by Shanghai-based Youzu Interactive and Island and Factory, a computer game by Shenzhen Zhongqingbao Interactive Network, stand out. It's worth noting that Island and Factory are not accessible on mobile platforms, setting them apart from the rest.

Credits: REUTERS

The steady pace of approvals seen throughout this year continues with this latest batch. Over 85 games have received approval each month in 2023, a significant increase from just a few dozen right after the NPPA resumed its monthly publication of the license list last year. This trend offers reassurance and stability to the gaming industry following the concerns raised by the 2021 crackdown, which temporarily froze approvals and imposed restrictions on minors' gaming time.

In 2023 so far, the NPPA has greenlit over 500 domestic games, surpassing the 466 approvals granted in the entirety of 2022. Last December, the administration approved 87 domestic titles and 44 imported ones. However, only 27 imported games have received approval this year. Stringent regulations and the requirement for foreign games to be localised and vetted by censors in partnership with Chinese companies have made it increasingly challenging for overseas games to monetize within mainland China.

Mobile gaming remains the dominant force in China's gaming landscape, with titles like Tencent's Honour of Kings and Peacekeeper Elite leading in revenue. According to a recent report by market intelligence firm Niko Partners, Chinese developers currently account for 47% of global mobile game revenue. Although Tencent and NetEase remained dominant in 2022, with a combined market share of over 60% in PC and mobile game revenue, their share declined due to the underperformance of legacy titles and a lack of new releases, paving the way for smaller competitors to gain ground.

Niko Partners predicts a promising future for China's gaming market, estimating that the country's total gamer count across all platforms will rise from over 700 million in 2022 to approximately 730 million by 2027.

  • Chinese regulators approve 89 new video games for sale, maintaining momentum in the world's largest gaming market.

  • Notable companies such as Youzu Interactive and NetEase secure licenses.

  • Largest batch of approvals this year; the steady pace of monthly approvals seen in 2023.

  • Tencent is absent from the list this month; NetEase's Yanyun Sixteen Sounds receives a license.

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