Chinese video platform Bilibili said it will ban live-streaming of more than 60 video games, including the popular Grand Theft Auto (GTA) series and The Witcher 3 to comply with regulatory guidelines, in the latest sign that companies are falling into line with Beijing’s efforts to purge the domestic gaming industry of content it disapproves of.
The live-streaming unit of Bilibili said in a statement on Monday that the decision to ban live-streaming of these games and others such as Heart of Iron, Rainbow Six Siege and the World of Tanks had been made to comply with guidelines from the Ministry of Culture and other authorities, which regard these titles as unfit for public broadcasting.
“Bilibili will prohibit the live-streaming of games with bloody, violent and pornographic content,” the Shanghai-based company said in the statement.
Chinese authorities have been tightening their control over gaming content, treating games like films and television series when it comes to censorship and pushing on with an anti-gaming addiction drive.
The increased regulatory scrutiny is making it harder for games developed by overseas studios to access the country’s 666 million game players though, as Beijing has placed an emphasis on approving content that promotes positive social values.
China has already banned certain games, including Plague Inc, a real-time strategy simulation game that allows players to create a pathogen to wipe out humanity.
It was blocked for purchase by Chinese users on Apple’s App Store and Steam in March 2020 after it gained popularity during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.
Gaming-related video content is an important part of what Bilibili offers on its platform.
According to statistics provided by Bilibili, the gaming category received more than 24 million video submissions in 2021, with a combined length of around 5 million hours.
Beijing has been ramping up its scrutiny of the country’s gaming industry – the biggest in the world in 2021 with an estimated turnover of US$49.3 billion, according to data from the World Economic Forum and Statista.
China’s freeze on new video game licences has been extended into 2022, dashing earlier hopes that the process would be resumed by year-end.
The National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), which is in charge of licensing video games in China, has not published a list of approved new titles since the end of July.
This is the longest suspension of new game licences in the country since a nine-month hiatus in 2018, which followed a regulatory reshuffle.
In August Beijing also issued a rule limiting the gaming time for players aged under 18 to between 8pm and 9pm only on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays, in an effort to tackle gaming addiction among minors.
Source: South China Morning Post