China bans English words and virtual marriages from games

Chinese authorities continue to tighten regulations for games. Use of English, virtual marriages and the whole genre of “imperial harem games” fell under the ban.

The State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP), founded in 2018, implemented a new licensing process for digital games on April 22, 2019. These included, for example, a ban on blood of any color and in any quantity. These rules are relevant for both local and foreign titles.

Analysts at Niko Partners noted some previously undetected bans in their new report.

No English

All in-game text should be in Simplified Chinese. “We have seen cases where games were rejected simply for having words like ‘Winner’ and ‘Attack’ show up on screen in English instead of Simplified Chinese,” the report reads.

Ban on virtual marriage

This ban is intended to protect minors. According to the regulator, children should not have the opportunity to get married in games. Note that marriage is a very popular mechanic in Chinese MMORPGs like Perfect World.

Ban on games about life in a harem

Technically, this prohibition only exist as an unspoken requirements. But, according to Niko Partners, it is respected as strictly as official prohibitions.

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SAPP finds these or other violations and rejects the game for three times, it will no longer be considered.

Analysts also point out the fact that the number of games approved each year is getting smaller. According to publisher JoyPac, China can license a maximum of 5,000 games annually.

Meanwhile, PCGamesN reports that in 2019, the regulator only licensed 1,570 games to be released in China. Only 12% of them are from overseas companies. And only 108 of them are not mobile games (just 23 console games came out last year in China).

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