Henry Fong, CEO of Chinese mobile publisher Yodo1, published a comprehensive feature article on Gamasutra this week detailing the new demands from the State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP), also known as China's gaming authority. The guidelines aim to improve game productions and raise quality, even if that means fewer games. The administration held a conference in April with the goal of improving quality and content in games developed in China. Some of the focal points include tackling gaming addiction among minors and self-regulation by publishers, which will lead to subsequent regulations.
The application process of new game licenses has been entirely overhauled since April 2018, when game approvals were suspended, which resulted in a brief half of China's booming gaming industry. In December the SAPP resumed the approval of some submissions received while the process was suspended. The new April 2019 guidelines will cover all future submissions and the standards have been significantly raised. All submissions must now include revenue approximation, the game's release date with user base history and changes, social perception on the game, and a full script.
Fong details each of these aspects, and most of it seems pretty straightforward, a mostly technical and commercial outline of a game and its market that the administration can evaluate. Except when it comes to the "social perception" component of the evaluation, which Fong also says it's going to be the toughest to quantify and provide information about. He says developers should keep in mind that this requirement relates directly to how the new guidelines will no longer approve low-quality games. In order to show a positive social reception, developers will have to provide results in terms of ranking, awards, reviews, app store features, and age ratings.
This ties into how China has been "cleaning house" with other social perception issues in the past few months. Earlier this month we reported on the country banning in-game blood and the word kill. We also reported on the "Game For Peace" clone of PUBG, which shows players standing up and waving goodbye instead of being killed. Earlier this year we also saw Tencent announcing new streaming rules for Chinese gamers. All of these events seem part of a concerted effort to keep the Chinese gaming industry strictly controlled and censored by SAPP.
Still, Chinese developers will be forced to pass through these hoops if they hope to keep their companies afloat, and Fong's article on Gamasutra is a good start for all developers in China, or developers that hope to explore the Chinese market, to understand what they must submit in order to get their games approved by the SAPP. Fong also refers to his publisher Yodo1 for expert counseling on how to get your games approved.
What do you think of China's gaming authority new guidelines? Will it improve quality in Chinese games? Let us know in the comments below!