Yes, China can revoke game licenses too.

By Todd KuhnsLast Updated on Sep 26, 2020
Yes, China can revoke game licenses too.

On September 1, the National Press and Publications Administration (NPPA) announced it had revoked the game licenses for two games it had approved years ago.

Thunder Armada (雷霆舰队) is a warship battle game first approved in June 2017, while The Strongest King (最强王者) is a real-time strategy game, approved in September 2014.

Although the NPPA – the Chinese government office responsible for approving and managing game licenses in China – has not said why it has revoked these licenses, many have speculated that it is because they are merely reskins of existing games, which runs afoul of the regulations.

While it is rare for the NPPA to recall a game license it has issued, this announcement further emphasizes the absolute control that the Chinese government has over game content and distribution in Mainland China.

Developers who publish their games in China enjoy access to a lucrative and hungry market that is the fastest growing and highest-spending in the world. But game companies who do business in the country must remain vigilant to ensure compliance with the latest content and access regulations in the country.

It’s also important for game and app developers to remember that, when new regulations are released in China, rarely are currently licensed games allowed to be “grandfathered in” – meaning, previous approval does not mean your game will continue to be allowed to publish if it suddenly falls out of compliance with new laws. There will often be a deadline attached for current games to update their content or procedures to fall within the new regulations.

In wake of the recent revocations, remember to keep these points in mind about game licenses in China:

  • Games cannot be reskins of previous games.
  • Paid games and games with in-app purchases cannot be promoted or released in China without a game license number.
  • A game license cannot be transferred to another game.
  • If you want to change the title or content of your game, you will need to apply for a new game license.
  • At all times, even after updates, games must comply with the latest content requirements laid out by the NPPA.

Chinese game licenses have become more precious than ever, considering the recent slowdown in license approvals this year and ever since the game license freeze of 2018. While the COVID-19 period from January to April didn’t appear to slow down overall trend of game license approvals in China, foreign game license approvals have dropped significantly in 2020 amidst heightened regulations and a growing US-China trade war.

Despite these challenges, our company has helped hundreds of overseas apps and games become published and monetized in China. Contact us and we can help you gain access to the world’s largest and most active games market, with over 1.1 billion players.