China bans 20 popular games in a bid to fix the gaming market’s incorrect values

The Chinese government, through the State Administration of Press and Publications (a new government wing barely five months old), has announced to the press that a recent report by the department has highlighted the government’s need to step in and regulate popular mobile games. Twenty games are in the government’s sights including PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, League of Legends, and Fortnite.

According to reporting by the BBC, State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP) was only revealed to the Chinese press last week Friday. Its first announcement was the formation of the group, reportedly comprised of gaming experts, government-employed researchers, and representatives from the media and video game industry in China. Although details on the representatives weren’t forthcoming, one of these will definitely be Tencent, one of China’s biggest media companies that the government holds a large financial stake in. The SAPP announced that it was taking responsibility for reviewing and approving the number of games available to the public on multiple platforms, including online browser-based games.

The second announcement of the SAPP was that a freeze would be put in place on twenty games the department had identified as being problematic. According to reporting by XinhuaNet, the SAPP banned nine games outright and froze the release of the other eleven, subject to the developers making changes requested by the SAPP to their games. The SAPP further stated that its aim was “to provide the public with healthy entertainment products and protect adolescents from the negative impact of online gaming”.

While the list of games was kept secret from the public, a purported leak of the titles reviewed by the also-brand-new Online Gaming Ethics Review Committe has been seen on Reddit, listing all twenty games reviewed by the committee, the reasons for their review, and the action taken. They include:

Title Developer Cause Action Taken
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Bluehole/Tencent Blood and gore Withdrawal
Fornite Epic Games Blood and gore, vulgar content Withdrawal
H1Z1 Daybreak Games Blood and gore, vulgar content Withdrawal
Alliance of Valiant Arms Red Duck Inc. Blood and gore, vulgar content Withdrawal
Ring of Elysium Tencent Inc. Blood and gore, vulgar content Withdrawal
Paladins Hi-Rez Studios Overly revealing female characters, blood and gore, vulgar content Withdrawal
Free Fire Battlegrounds Garena Overly revealing female characters, blood and gore, vulgar content Withdrawal
Knives Out NetEase Games Overly revealing female characters, blood and gore, vulgar content Withdrawal
Quantum Matrix NetEase Games Blood and gore, vulgar content, inharmonious chat Withdrawal
Arena of Valor Tencent Inc. Overly revealing female characters, rewards given based on rank, distorted concepts of history and culture Corrective
League of Legends Riot Games Overly revealing female characters, rewards given based on rank, inharmonious chatroom Corrective
Blade & Soul NCSOFT Overly revealing female characters, inharmonious chatroom Corrective
Chu Lui Xiang NetEase Games Overly revealing female characters, inharmonious chatroom, game missions include fraud Corrective
Overwatch Blizzard Game visuals promote incorrect values, inharmonious chatroom Corrective
Diablo Blizzard Inharmonious chat, game missions include fraud Corrective
World of Warcraft Blizzard Overly revealing female characters, inharmonious chatroom Corrective
Westward Journey NetEase Games Overly revealing female characters, inharmonious chatroom, distorted concepts of history and culture Corrective
Code: Eva Tencent Games Rewards given based on rank, distorted concepts of history and culture Corrective
The Legend of Mir 3 WeMade Games Inharmonious chatroom Corrective
Swords of Legends Online Aurogon Inharmonious chatroom Corrective

It is currently unclear what the status of these games are on their respective platforms. It may take a little while to have the games blacklisted on China’s great internet firewall, but once that happens Chinese citizens will no longer be able to play these games. It is interesting to note that the SAPP chose to ban PUBG, Fortnite, and H1Z1 for blood and gore and reportedly vulgar content. It’s possible that we may later learn that the vulgar content comes from the players themselves, or the people that stream these games on China’s social media networks like Weibo.

Complete withdrawals of the nine titles will affect the developers who made those games heavily. Tencent and Bluehole’s collaboration on PUBG for the Chinese market cost both companies a lot of money, and Tencent’s closeness to the Communist Party in China may give them some leeway to put PUBG back on the map. All the games slated for withdrawals are also battle royale-type titles, and both Arena of Valor and League of Legends’ cause stating that rewards are given based on rank fall foul of communist ideology, which is weird to see in 2018.

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