The Chinese video game market

My personal experience of Chinese video games goes back to the Chinese government banning the Codemasters game IGI2 in 2004. A massive blow when we had no sales or distribution there!

I have pointed out on here before, China has a rich heritage of Gold Farming with about 400,000 people employed in this “industry”. So there is a very big understanding there of game mechanics and business models. And it is hardly surprising that  the dominant games are MMOs and the dominant platform the PC. One of the largest PC manufacturers in the world, Lenovo, is Chinese.

Also there is a cluster of game development studios in Shanghai which grew out of Ubisoft’s decision to site a major development studio there.

The Chinese game market is exploding. Q2 turnover this year was 40% up on Q2 last year. Total turnover there could be as high as $4 billion this year. So it is a substantial and well established market. The government are repressive of games from abroad because they fear cultural pollution. At the same time they actively encourage the export of Chinese games so as to spread their own culture. Double standards.

Like many governments they are trying to control the game industry. In the latest news:

  • An Internet Publishing License will be required to publish online games.
  • There will be an approved management system for imported online games.
  • Unapproved online games cannot be exported.
  • Bodies promoting the export of unapproved games will be banned.
  • Games not registered before publication will be suspended.

The Chinese General Administration of Press and Publication has inspected over 200 online games (which gives you an idea of just how vibrant the market is there). They found:

  • 3 websites were publishing unapproved imported games. It doesn’t say whether or not these were pirated
  • 25 Chinese made games had added unsuitable content after approval. Which gives you an idea how much they respect the rules. Unsuitable content includes violence, gore, and sex. They don’t seem to have twigged yet about the gambling content in some of these games.
  • 9 Chinese games hadn’t followed the correct publishing procedure.
  • 7 Chinese games didn’t have a fatigue testing system. Presumably the government don’t want people playing these games for excessively long periods of time. And quite right too.

So we have a big market that will grow to be immense but which is dominated by government red tape and some “interesting” local game producers.


  1. IMHO implementing both defensive and offensive operations in a war is not a double standard, it’s just the smart thing to do. Of course it’s not to our advantage, but that doesn’t make it inconsistent.

    We have the same thing within the English-speaking world. Certain groups try to hijack government agencies to promote actions that they consider to be moral while preventing actions that they consider immoral.

  2. I have a feeling the western world may need many legal specialists in Chinese law if the intellectual property rights of western gaming industries are to be protected from some Chinese gaming companies.

    Intellectual Property Protection in China offers some interesting articles that allows readers to understand the stance taken in China. The official stance is that foreign enterprises are banned from online game services But this also means that if one finds a Chinese online gaming company trying to avoid Chinese regulations, namely pretending not to be a Chinese company, they can report them to the Chinese authorities. In this respect the Peoples Republic of China have offered westerners the tools with which to challenge some “interesting” local online game producers too. All is fair in love and war.


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