Report: League of Legends, PUBG, Fortnite and Blizzard titles among projects reviewed by China's new Online Games Ethics Committee

Report: League of Legends, PUBG, Fortnite and Blizzard titles among projects reviewed by China's new Online Games Ethics Committee

Video games that have already launched in China are being reviewed by the country's new Online Games Ethics Committee.

That's according to a variety of sources, including the analysts over at IHS Markit as well as posts on Reddit, with the latter saying that titles from Blizzard, including Overwatch Diablo and World of Warcraft, battle royale titles Fortnite, Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, H1Z1 and Riot Games' League of Legends are among the 20 projects that have undergone review so far.

It is worth pointing out that none of this is confirmed yet, with IHS Markit simply saying that publishers are internally evaluating existing projects. 

Of the games submitted so far, 11 have been told they need "corrective action", that content needs to be changed in order for them to be released, while another nine have been prohibited for release or told to withdraw.

'Corrective action' appears to be for titles that feature "overly revealing female characters", ranking reward systems, an "inharmonious chatroom" and "distorted concepts of history and culture".

So far, Tencent's Arena of Valor and Code: Eva, League of Legends from Riot Games, Blizzard's Overwatch, Diablo and World of Warcraft as well as NCSoft-published Blade & Soul are on this list.

Meanwhile, games appear to be prohibited due to blood, gore and vulgar content. Battle royale titles Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, Fortnite, H1Z1, Knives Out and Rings of Elysium are all banned from distribution in the region, alongside Paladins from Hi-Rez.

IHS Markit has sent out a release detailing the process so far, confirming that titles which already have a commercial license for sale are likely to be reviewed which means more problems or waves in the Chinese games market moving forwards. This follows nine months of disruption in the region following the country's culture and content regulator placing a freeze on the approval process.

Reviewing existing titles is also going to make the process for getting the green light for Chinese release much longer.

Overall, this creates a great degree of uncertainty for the Chinese market.

"The review process adds additional uncertainty to the mainland China games market," IHS Markit games chief Piers Harding-Rolls said.

"Games publishers in China will continue to diversify and look for international opportunities to offset this additional risk and uncertainty. Adding to the confusion is the opaque nature of the new review process, the criteria applied, and the organisations involved.

"Overall this development is not a positive one for mainland China games market in commercial terms. This is likely to impact market growth running into 2019 as the local industry comes to terms with the additional costs and risks of this new review process."

Whether this will affect Niko Partners' prediction that premium titles will generate $1bn a year by 2022 in China is unclear - though we are reaching out to see if anything has changed. 

Not that long ago, said that Chinese gamers were going to become much more of a focus for Western companies moving forwards, with companies such as Ubisoft and Blizzard targetting platforms and content suitable for the region. No doubt this process might have an impact on that investment moving forwards. 

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.