Report: This is what you need to know about launching a game in China

Report: This is what you need to know about launching a game in China

We now know a bit more about what China's recently-formed State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP) is judging games on when they are submitting for approval in the region.

Thanks to analyst and research firm Niko Partners, we can see that the organisation now wants all releases in China to text in Simplified Chinese, with titles being rejected for even featuring English. Developers and publishers must disclose the odds for loot boxes – something that has been the norm in China for some time. Players are also limited to opening 50 loot boxes each day, which seems fair enough. Meanwhile, bodies must disappear soon after death. China does have a bit of a weird thing when it comes to the dead appearing in games, with skeletons long being a big no no for games in the region.

Oh, and if a project fails to win approval three times in a row, it is not allowed to be submitted again. Harsh!

SAPP is also only allowed a set number of games to be approve in a given year, with the aim being to cut back on titles that are simply copying others. Simple games that are similar to existing products, such as poker and mah-jong releases, are also being denied approval.

Titles that promote traditional Chinese culture and values are also being given priority in the approval process, something that is no doubt surprising given that the country's government is keen to maintain cultural order and control. Foreign companies can submit their games via a local company as a domestic title, too. Outsiders have to work with a local publisher to release in the region anyway. In 2019, 1,385 local games were approved with only 185 titles made by non-Chinese companies getting the nod.

These new regulations were introduced in early 2019 following the state regulator putting a freeze on game approvals for much of 2018.

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.