Steam is the last bastion of hope for PC developers in China amidst game licensing freeze

Steam is the last bastion of hope for PC developers in China amidst game licensing freeze

China’s temporary green channel for game licensing has stopped providing approvals.

The green channel was set up this August following a total freeze on new game approvals. But according to anonymous sources speaking to South China Morning Post, licenses are no longer being granted through this avenue.

The green channel allowed domestic and international developers a one-month testing window to distribute and monetise titles in China.

Niko Partners provided us with further details, explaining that since the departure of China’s State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP) director Zhuang Rongwen the limited green channel option for game releases has been stopped.

China's block on new game approvals has had a devastating effect on the world's biggest games market. Industry leader Tencent lost a staggering $20 billion in value thanks to the freeze.

Light at the end

There are a few reliefs for developers operating in China, however. Chinese gamers and developers have been able to access the market through Valve’s partnership with Perfect World, and Chinese-developed The Scrolls of Taiwu opened at No.1 worldwide at the start of this month.

The platform’s user base in China has reportedly exceeded 30 million - but accessibility may change once Steam moves to store games on regional servers.

“It’s interesting how long Steam overseas can remain unblocked since people are noticing how Chinese gamers are flooding the platform to download games,” said Pacific Epoch analyst Benjamin Wu, speaking to the South China Morning Post. “It might only be a matter of time that they get blocked.”

Niko Partners also told us that China’s State Council plans to reform the approval process for new business creation starting November 10. It also released a notice expressing plans to promote the online games industry and standardise approval processes.

This story first appeared on our mobile sister site

Staff Writer

Natalie Clayton is an Edinburgh-based freelance writer and game developer. Besides PCGamesInsider and, she's written across the games media landscape and was named in the 2018 100 Rising Star list.