On April 11, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, introduced new regulations for Chinese gaming companies. Several Chinese media outlets noted that these were the toughest checks and standards yet implemented for China’s gaming industry.
According to the regulations, the government has identified three main improper behaviors provoked by gaming, which could violate Chinese law.
First, there are individuals promoting separatist ideas through gaming platforms, which the government sees as attempts to divide the nation. In addition, some players spread superstitious and anti-scientific viewpoints, either directly in game chats or through game’s mod design system.
Second, there are a few game publishers using “borrowing strategies” (a.k.a backdoors) to publish and monetize their games. Simply put, these are methods that make a game available in China by illicitly “borrowing” the necessary approvals from the government. This will not only incur cancellation with a fine but also result in a six-month ban on all game approval services for any game publishers involved.
Third, there are games with improper advertisements. Every advertisement in a game also needs to be approved by the government, otherwise the publisher will be investigated and could be held legally liable.
Recently, China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao, decided it would no longer distribute imported versions of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, a social simulation game from Nintendo, released shortly after quarantine measures against COVID-19 were introduced in the west.
While neither Taobao nor Nintendo have given an official statement to explain the game’s removal, a few news outlets in China and the West reported that the move was related to Hong Kong protesters who used the game (and its myriad of customization options) to promote political views. With stay-at-home measures enforced in Hong Kong, the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have given rise to real-life protesting indoors.