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China reveals conditions for console games

by GH Staff

Back at the beginning of the year, the Chinese government announced that it would be lifting a 14-year long ban on consoles and console video games. The news came as a huge opportunity for key industry players, who now had access to one of the biggest markets in the world. This change in Chinese legislature isn’t all that tolerant though, and heavy censorship will be applied for console games, meaning that only some (and based on the conditions, few) games will get past the screening process. The exact rules were recently published on a Chinese website, relaying the decisions taken in Shanghai.

For starters, anything including alcohol abuse, drug use, violence and obscenity is ruled out from the start. This pretty much applies to anything that even remotely resembles the Action genre (or RPGs for that matter), not just obvious titles such as GTA 5. Furthermore, anything hinting at cults or superstitions is ruled out, as well as anything that even remotely challenges China’s political, national or religious integrity. Games with horror elements and monsters are likely to be ruled out too. Don’t expect to be playing Battlefield 4’s China Rising DLC there either.

China promises to be swift about ruling what games pass their screening process however, and will provide an answer to developers within 20 days from submitting a publishing request. If the answer is a “no” (and based on today’s games, it’s likely to be just that), the government will give clear justification on why exactly this decision was taken. The rules seem to favor Nintendo and the Wii U, a console that has many titles that seem to be immune to all these restrictions. It’s unlikely Mario or Sonic will be deemed too violent or threatening to the Chinese regime. Sony and Microsoft will have to struggle to get games on shelves in China on the other hand. Unfortunately, these rules might greatly influence the gaming industry overall. China’s buying-power cannot be ignored, and if publishers will chose to trim and tailor their games to pass China’s rigorous censorship in order to take advantage of the obviously strong market, we’re going to be seeing a massive drop in mature, western-oriented content.

How do you feel about these conditions? Are the rules too harsh, or do they make sense for China’s current context and situation? Do you think these rules will have long-lasting effects on the international gaming industry? Sound off in the comment section below!