The Chinese video game regulator has granted publishing licenses to 44 foreign games for release in China, including seven from South Korea. This marks a significant easing of the strict restrictions that have greatly impacted the industry for the past 18 months.
The Chinese video game regulator’s decision to grant publishing licenses to seven South Korean games is noteworthy because China has imposed restrictions on South Korean content since a dispute in 2017 over the installation of a U.S. missile defense shield in South Korea. Prior to this new list, only two South Korean games had received approval for release in China.
According to a list released by the National Press and Publication Administration, five of the imported online games that were approved for release in China will be published by Tencent Holdings. These games include “Pokémon Unite” by Nintendo and “Valorant” by Riot Games.
The Chinese video game regulator initially released a list of 45 imported games that were approved for release in China. However, they later removed Yoozoo’s “Game of Thrones: Winter is Coming” from the list on Wednesday, without providing a reason. It is worth noting that Yoozoo appears to already have a license for the game, according to a document published by the authority in September.
The National Press and Publication Administration has also approved 84 domestic games for release in China in December, according to a separate list released on Wednesday. The approval of these imported games effectively signals the end of China’s crackdown on the video game industry, which began in August of last year when regulators suspended the game approval process.
In April, regulators in China resumed issuing game licenses to domestic games. The approval of foreign games is the final regulatory restriction that has now been lifted, marking the end of the government’s crackdown on the video game industry. In China, video games must be approved by regulators before they can be released, which is a requirement that is not present in most other countries. China is the world’s largest gaming market.