After cracking down on online games to ensure companies would comply with its new rules, such as limited weekly playtime for kids, China now seems to have put its game approval process back on track. According to new data from research firm Niko Partners (via PocketGamer.Biz), the total number of titles approved in the country is set to reach 1,100 this year, marking a return to 2020 levels.
China’s National Press and Publication Administration, the agency in charge of issuing the licenses, approved 88 titles in the first month of this year, 87 titles in February, and another set of 86 titles last month.
According to the research firm, the regulator granted licenses to a total of 288 games during the first quarter of 2023, of which 261 were local and 27 were imported from other countries. This is already more than half (56%) of the total number of approvals that took place in 2022, when the approval freeze continued until the fourth month.
The company added that the regulator approved an average of 87 domestic titles within the first three months of this year, returning to levels comparable to earlier in 2021. When it comes to foreign games, it expects 2 or 3 more batches to take place this year.
‘’While we do not expect the number of game approvals to return to pre-2018 levels (before the first freeze on game approvals and introduction of stricter regulations), we are confident that Q1 2023 represents a “new normal”, Niko Partners said. ‘’Game licensing had been a significant bottleneck for global video game companies over the past two years, with only 120 import games approved in 2021 and 2022. The more positive outlook for both domestic and import games comes as government regulators and bodies acknowledge that compliance and self-regulation has increased across the industry, especially in regard to youth gamer regulations, which has alleviated the concerns that led to the freeze in 2021.’’
Meanwhile, Chinese regulators also allowed Didi’s popular ride-hailing app ‘’Didi Chuxing’’, which was banned in July 2021, to reappear on Chinese app stores earlier this year.