China is licensing new games again, ending a nine-month freeze

China's media regulator has ended a nine-month freeze (opens in new tab) on new video game approvals by licensing 80 games for release in the country.

The list consists largely of mobile games by smaller, domestic developers, but industry analyst Daniel Ahmad told the Financial Times (opens in new tab) that he expected "to see a ramp up in the number of titles approved starting from next month for both domestic and foreign titles". 

None of the approved games belong to Tencent, the world's largest games company, which has been hit hard by the freeze—its stock has fallen by around 25% since the start of the year.

The regulator will have to work through a backlog of around 5,000 games facing approval, and gaming executives in China told the FT that they expected censorship to be tightened as the backlog is cleared.

As well as freezing game approvals, the Chinese government has cracked down on gaming in other ways, such as blocking Twitch (opens in new tab), in an apparent bid to curb a growing number of myopia cases in young children (opens in new tab).

However, the appetite for gaming in the country has remained strong, including on PC. In October, Steam surpassed 30 million users in China (opens in new tab), and Chinese language games such as Chinese Parents (opens in new tab) and The Scroll of Taiwu (opens in new tab) have found success on the platform.

Samuel Horti

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play. He's now a full-time reporter covering health at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. When he does have time for games you may find him on the floor, struggling under the weight of his Steam backlog.