Chinese regulators have granted publishing licenses for 44 imported games in a move that shows the government is easing up on its crackdown of titles coming into the country. The approval from The National Press and Publication Administration—as first reported by Reuters—signals that the government has backed away from its rigid policy that saw a halt in game approvals in the region over the last 18 months.
This is a major milestone for Tencent and its wholly-owned subsidiary Riot Games in the region, setting the stage for its popular free-to-play team-based shooter to become a bonafide world-wide esport like its other popular game, League of Legends.
In addition to Valorant, the Chinese government also approved the Nintendo-backed MOBA Pokémon UNITE (published by Tencent in China and developed by its wholly-owned studio TiMi Studio Group), Klei Entertainment’s popular survival game Don’t Starve, and CD Projekt’s The Witcher-themed card game, Gwent.
But the most interesting news is that China has approved games developed and published by South Korean companies. The government had a moratorium in place on approving games from South Korea after the country worked with the U.S. government in 2017 to install a missile defense shield system in the region. The South Korean games come from such publishers as NCSoft Corporation, Netmarble, and PUBG Mobile maker Krafton, among others.
Reuters also reports that 84 domestic games (titles made/published from within China) were approved this month.
The news is likely welcomed by Tencent CEO Pony Ma, who reportedly took employees to task during a recent company-wide townhall meeting for being complacent during a time when it has experienced losses across multiple quarters for the first time in its history. According to Reuters’ reporting, Ma warned that the company would have to come to grips with the slow game approval process of the Chinese government. It turns out that maybe Tencent and other major publishers in China might soon be able to breathe a big collective sigh of relief.