As per a recent investigation by China’s new Online Ethics Review committee, Fortnite and PUBG have been banned. They cited that they “promote incorrect values,” and there are seven other titles that have been axed as well by the Chinese government. In addition, Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft, and League of Legends were placed in the “needing corrective action” category. This means that the titles will have to be altered in order to stay up and running in the country. In total, 20 games were reviewed initially, with nine completely failing.
Chinese government dislikes blood, gore, and more
The reasoning behind the bans was the use of blood and gore effects, which China is really not a fan of. Titles H1Z1 and PUBG clearly failed this review, having gratuitous amounts of both in their gameplay. In addition, League and Warcraft were denounced for having “inharmonious chatrooms,” which imply a toxic environment amongst the games’ communities. Overwatch and LoL were penalized as well for having “revealing female characters” — another issue the Chinese government states as a promoter of incorrect values. Fortnite is a curious case, as it does not have blood or gore in its gameplay, nor does it have revealing female characters.
Tencent feels the pinch
PUBG creator Tencent got hit the hardest on the list, having six different titles on the review banned. Chinese gaming regulations have already seen the game developer lose over $20 billion. Further bans on its product could signal a harsh future for Tencent, should it fail to reach an amicable agreement with China’s government. It’s unclear how games like PUBG can be altered to meet the strict regulatory guidelines in place, however. PUBG and H1Z1 are centered around combat and violence, with blood and gore being all but mandatory aspects of gameplay.
What’s the deal with China and gaming?
China’s always had a complicated relationship with video games. Consoles first started getting the ban hammer in the 2000s amidst fears that gaming had a detrimental effect on a child’s mental and physical development. This lasted until July of 2015, when the ban was lifted. China’s State General Administration of Press and Publication, anti-porn, and illegal publication offices also play a role in the decision-making process behind game bans. Many titles, such as Battlefield 4, Command & Conquer, and Hearts of Iron were also banned for damaging the country’s image. Anti-Chinese imagery and content are not tolerated by the Chinese government.
Et tu, Twitch?
Chinese president Xi Jinping has made video game censorship and regulation a central point of his governance. This has influenced several key policy choices during 2018. Twitch and similar websites have been outright banned for having unauthorized streams. This was in response to the Asian Games being streamed on Twitch to a viewership of 500,000. The Chinese government had official broadcasting rights to the event. Valve also had to create an entirely new Steam store just so Chinese users could license their games in Chinese areas.