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China Approves 31 Foreign-Developed Video Games for Local Market

China's video game regulator, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), has given approval to 31 foreign-developed video games for the Chinese market. The list of newly approved games includes adaptations of popular film franchises such as Avatar and The Lord of the Rings. The approved titles consist of 21 mobile games, seven PC games, two Nintendo Switch games, and one game available on both PC and mobile platforms.

Tencent Holdings and NetEase, two of China's largest video game publishers, each had at least one title approved. Tencent gained approval for a mobile game adaptation of the hit Japanese manga series, One Piece. NetEase received approval for publishing The Lord of the Rings: Rise to War, a mobile strategy game based on the fictional world of Middle-earth.

Other notable titles on the list include Avatar: Reckoning, a mobile shooting game based on the blockbuster science fiction franchise directed by James Cameron. The game is developed by Beijing-based Archosaur Games and is set to be released internationally later this year by Tencent's overseas game publishing division, Level Infinite.

China has a strict licensing and censorship system for video games, and foreign titles must go through a localization process and partner with a Chinese company in order to generate revenue legally in the country. This latest batch of approvals brings the total number of imported games approved this year to 58, surpassing the total number approved in 2021.

Major Chinese video game companies are also focusing on publishing popular foreign titles in the local market to grow user numbers and generate more revenue, especially after China imposed restrictions on gaming time for minors. Sales in China's video gaming market fell by 2.4% in the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year, but a rebound is expected in the second half.

Sources: National Press and Publication Administration, Sensor Tower, China Audio-video and Digital Publishing Association