China imposes new regulations on blood, dead bodies, and history in games

China recently resumed approving videogames for release in the country, but it has also made a number of changes to that process and implemented stricter regulations on content. According to a report by analyst firm Niko Partners, that means games must not depict dead bodies or pools of blood, and must contain "correct information regarding history, politics and law." 

The State Administration of Press and Publication, which was formed in April 2018 to regulate the approval process, announced the changes at a conference held earlier this month. Some of the changes are already in place, such as the Online Game Ethic Committee, which was established in December 2018 to ensure that games "abide by the social values that China holds dear." 

More than 1,000 games have been approved for publication since then, but the report also says that SAPP will impose a limit on the number of games approved each year, and that some types of games, primarily "low quality copycat games," will no longer be approved. Poker and mahjong games will also not be approved, as China moves to tighten restrictions on online gambling, and games with obscene or immoral content, including "imperial harem games"—I'm not familiar with the genre, but I assume it's stuff like this—are also out. 

Game companies are also being encouraged to publish games that put an emphasis on China's "core social values" and "traditional culture." And while publishers were previously able to get around China's ban on the depiction of blood by changing its color, that will no longer be allowed. 

"There shall be no images of dead bodies or pools of blood in any games," the report states. "Developers may not change the color of pools of blood to accommodate." 

The new approval process is expected to be in place by the end of April. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.