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Impact of China’s Regulation for Foreign Companies

It wasn’t too long ago when the Chinese market was completely dominated by domestic companies. The emergence of PC and the Smartphone platform and the unbanning of the game console, paved the way for titles like Clash of Clans, Candy Crush, and League of Legends to become household names in the China Market. Foreign companies have taken notice of the ever expanding smartphone markets as they work towards increasing their market share in this region, but the with unlimited growth comes regulation and the Chinese Government have definitely taken notice of this emerging market and have taken action to control this mark.

What this means:

When the Chinese government gets involved it means 2 things,

  • Whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s disrupting the political or cultural agenda of the nation

  • You’re just making way too much money and the Government needs to intervene to keep the money domestically.

The smartphone market was definitely a market the government had to intervene with as the exponential growth of this market is something they could not ignore.

Newzoo predicts that the Asia – Pacific app market will account for 56% of the global app revenue this year alone and projected to grow over $40 billion in 2020. China this year alone took over the US in app revenue and will continue to pull away, benefiting from its sheer size and untapped potential.

Opening up the market for foreign companies to take market share from their own domestic business is something they have no interest in experiencing thus the regulation of the app market was placed.

How the the regulations impact foreign companies.

In the past foreign developers who wanted to publish games in China only had to go through certain loopholes without having to follow and Chinese Government regulations, but those days are over now.

Publishing games on the Android, PC or console now requires a local publishing partner.

These publishers are required to be responsible for every aspect of your game from, localization, to promotion to filing of the game for approval. All foreign developer need to work with their local publishers and work towards the following to get their game released in the Chinese Market.

  • Foreign Developers need to register a copyright and the game itself

  • Foreign Developers are required to work with internal publishers in China to obtain a license number, before releasing on the app store.

  • Foreign Developers are required to work with their local publishers to fully localize the game, submit the game approval application form and operate the game.

  • All foreign developed game are required to go through the full 90 day review process as no such fast track service exist.


Expect game design changes from your local publishers as SAPPRFT are very particular about the censorship of any game that gets released in the market. Below are the guidelines for censorship and the same as the local developers in China.

  • Anything that violates China’s constitution

  • Anything that threatens China’s national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.

  • Anything that harms the nation’s reputation, security, or interests.

  • Anything that instigates racial/ethnic hatred, or harms ethnic traditions and cultures.

  • Anything that violates China’s policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions.

  • Anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use or violence.

  • Anything that harms public ethics or China’s culture and traditions.

  • Anything that insults, slanders, or violates the rights of others.

No English

Foreign developers are faced with an entirely new bag of issues as China has banned the use of English in their games. This actually rules applies to any language that isn’t Simplified Chinese. This rule actually has been around for a number of years but with has started to get enforced by the SAPPRFT in 2016. Recently, games that have the word ‘HP’ or ‘CRIT’ were getting rejected. SAPPRFT has acknowledged that only certain English words will be permissible for the use in games, such as Brands and Industry standard Abbreviations. ie HD.

Other Notable Regulations for approval

  • Game Chat features are required to have filter to ban sensitive words, this is also applicable to character names as well.

  • Game characters are not allowed to be wearing revealing clothes or see through clothing. Applicable to both male and female.

  • Extreme contexts and excessive violence or war will be requested to be toned down.

  • Blood remaining on a screen will also be requested to be removed from the game.

  • Skeletons characters are not allowed in games.

  • Games that do not function properly will not be approved.

  • Games are require to have a ‘Health Advise’ warning screen for the players to practice good gaming behaviour. Ie rest after every 15 minutes of game session.

All and all with the exponential growth of the Mobile market in China, the Chinese Government has taken steps to make the barrier of entry for this market ‘A lot’ higher to squeeze out the hacks, small indie companies and developers with negative interest. China looks to take advantage of this growing market and use this to uplift the currently growing China GDP.

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