The following piece was published on our sister site PocketGamer.biz and while it is mobile-focused, there is some valuable insight here that's relevant to the PC games market, also.
One of the slides in my Mobile Games: What Happens Next? talk at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2018 is beginning to look alarmingly prescient.
Considering what factors could impact market growth, either positively or negatively, I ran through the usual gambit of:
- hardware changes,
- chat games,
- autonomous cars, even.
But now one face stands out.
Not that Chinese president Xi Jinping is likely directly responsible for the shuttering of new game releases in China in recent months. But the increasing restrictions in many aspects of Chinese life - on and offline - that have occurred as his personal power has grown in recent years are not coincidental.
Away from games, Chinese citizens are now banned from using VPNs, buying cryptocurrency or livestreaming.
Even if the backlog was immediately sorted, these games couldn’t all be released immediately without saturating the market.
Meanwhile, the government is hard at work creating a national reputation system to rank all of its 1.4 billion population, and its already strong stance when it comes to censoring anything that doesn’t match its view of ‘positive Chinese character’ has been further ratcheted up.
Notably, this has seen a crackdown on soccer players and rappers with tattoos, to a tougher view taken on usual suspects such as any content containing violence and abnormal sexual behaviour. And that’s before we get onto Winnie the Pooh...