The Chinese government has put a ban on unapproved games, this means that if you live in China then you will not be able to stream videos of games which are unapproved. This law has come just a few months after controlling the games that the Chinese can play.
On the 12th of December, Monday, the Chinese Ministry of Culture announced regulations on the industry of online live stream industry. The law is that a game which is not approved by the Chinese Ministry of Culture can not be streamed at all.
It is likely that this new rule will damage China’s indie gaming industry even more, after being taken aback from the new censorship rules that came out this summer by SAPPRFT. It will be very difficult for indie games to now get approved by the officials as the process is expensive, time-consuming as well as tough and the games which haven’t been approved, as of yet, will no longer be able to be promoted via online streaming.
Previously indie games from China could target an audience in the country without the approval by a regulatory authority by simply marketing on foreign game platforms like Steam. But after this, these indie games could only market the game locally via live online streams, as the popular streamers of China experiment their games and introduce them to their audience. The indie games from China that were successful such as Lost Castle has been down this road; built a local audience organically through streams.
However, this window of opportunity for many has now been shut and has left indie developers without a platform to begin with and experiment on. As only approved games can be streamed. Games like Lost Castle (contains English-language elements, altars, objectionable content as per the government) are likely to seek trouble while seeking for approval. However, even if the content of the game can be as per the regulations by the government then the process itself is lengthy, expensive and difficult which is likely to lower down the process of promoting and launching the game.
Additionally, this new rule will not only effect local indie games but foreign indie games as well that have been passing through the corridor of opportunity in China in these few years. But several of these games are downloadable and playable in the country although they aren’t approved but they are somehow still available on the Steam platform. It is now going to be immensely difficult for these games to find growth in China.
The country is a massive market for video games that are live-streamed and has platforms like Douyu and Panda.tv that has audiences as large as millions. This new rule is likely to effect this market and these platforms.