Chinese video game law changes dialed back after stock prices dip

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One of the Chinese officials responsible for controversial laws that affected video games such as Genshin Impact and Pokemon Unite has been fired.

Feng Shixin, the head of the Communist Party’s Publicity Department, was removed from their position last week according to a report by Reuters. He oversaw The National Press and Publication Administration, which was responsible for a proposed set of regulations that would have seriously impacted the Chinese mobile games sector.  Shixin’s departure has not been publicly confirmed as of this writing.

The removal is speculated to be related to the changes to video game regulations. The reveal of the new policies was followed by stock prices of major Chinese tech companies plunging. Among them is Tencent Holdings, the parent company of the publishers behind major mobile games including PUBG Mobile and Pokemon Unite. Ma Huateng, Tencent’s CEO, is a member of China’s National People’s Congress.

Pokemon Unite Panic Parade

Are the new Chinese mobile game laws in effect?

The updated rules related to the Chinese gaming market will be debated until January 22, 2024.

These new laws could ban live-service and mobile game practices such as daily log-in rewards, bonuses for spending money on the game, cash incentives, and loot boxes targeting minors. The rules only impact the Chinese market and will not compel changes outside of China, but will likely impact how live-service games are conceptualized and created.

After the announcement of these laws, companies such as Tencent found their stocks plummeting. The NPPA backtracked its harsher tone last month and is now “earnestly studying” the public’s views on these new laws according to the report.

The proposed rules drew mixed responses from gamers. Many believe these laws are a net positive and reduce the potentially predatory practices of live-service games. Others are wary of the slippery slope of China’s censorship and conservatism, which has been growing across every form of media in recent years. The passing of these laws will set the tone for China’s gaming industry in 2024.

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New rules will impact games like Pokemon Unite, Genshin Impact differently

If implemented, the new rules would have varied effects on a game-by-game basis. Many active mobile titles have region-specific versions of games, which would see the games played in Europe and the Americas left unaffected by any changes.

The long-term impact would be more significant, especially for games that aren’t made by studios bankrolled by conglomerates like Tencent and NetEase. China also cracking down on these practices could also encourage other countries to do so. This could pour cold water over these sorts of practices on a larger scale.

Regardless, the gaming industry will have to wait until January 22 to see what the new rules actually look like.

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Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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