The South China Morning Post is reporting that the Chinese government has issued a fine of 700,000 yuan ($99,000 USD) to a developer for publishing their game without official governmental approval or license. This is the first such incident following a national restructuring of their games regulatory body last year.
The name of the Beijing-based mobile games company is undisclosed, but according to the South China Morning Post’s translation the official government notice (which is in Mandarin) concerning the fine states that the amount is “seven times the company’s revenue.” The news report explains that the Chinese government can fine games companies anywhere from five to ten times their revenue for publishing without a license.
China is unlike most other countries in that it requires all gaming companies to obtain a license before publishing any titles. Previously the government in China selectively ignored games published without licenses, which allowed the county’s games industry to build itself in the last several years. China has since restructured their approach to gaming licenses, “tightening the screws” and putting a freeze on the issuing of licenses for nine months. The freeze has since ceased, but the Chinese government is issuing new licenses infrequently, with more restrictions on games that are clearly clones of other games, are gambling-oriented like poker and mah-jong games, or games with content the Chinese government considers excessively violent or obscene.
Major companies including NetEase and Perfect World are following a publisher-led initiative launched by Tencent that aims to establish a new age-rating system for games, in response to the Chinese crackdown on unlicensed publishing in the country’s $38 billion games industry. This rating system would restrict young children’s access to certain games, with a focus on parental permissions and limitations on the time spent in game. It is recommended that children under 6 never play games without supervision.
An earlier report from the South China Morning Post from November explains that the The State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP) mandate players operate under a strict name-registration system to verify their age along with guidelines that limit gaming to no more than 1.5 hours per day and no greater than 400 yuan ($57 USD) on in-game purchases on a monthly basis.