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China Imposes New Restrictions on Online Games

| 19 Nov 2009 19:20
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China is imposing even stricter controls on online gaming in the country, demanding among other things that operators hire "specialists" to ensure that games "enhance socialist values."

China has never been the friendliest place in the world for online game companies to do business. Just ask Blizzard, whose World of Warcraft was shut down for months after it tried to change Chinese operators from The9 to NetEase. In fact, after finally getting back online in September, it was reported earlier this month that the game may yet again be in jeopardy.

But it looks like things are about to get even worse for online game operators in the country. The government announced yesterday that restrictions would be tightened even further; aside from the usual insistence that operators ensure their games don't contain any "obscene or violent content" or anything "lowbrow," a wonderfully vague concept that governments can use to justify law enforcement on a discretionary, some might say arbitrary, basis, game operators must also now hire "specialists" (a euphemism for political officers, I'm assuming) to monitor content and ensure the games "enhance socialist values."

Chinese game companies will have no choice but to comply with the new regulations but publishers from outside the country will be faced with a unique, potentially frustrating challenge. The Chinese market is huge, lucrative and growing rapidly, and Western operators naturally want a piece of that pie; but how is it going to be possible to modify popular existing MMOGs to suit "socialist values" without alienating existing audiences in the process?

Source: Crispy Gamer

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