China’s second-largest e-commerce platform JD.com will no longer sell unlicensed “grey market” video games.
Up to 86 titles, including Super Mario Maker 2, FIFA21, The Last of Us Part 2, the entire Call of Duty series and the entire Grand Theft Auto series will be removed from JD.com’s online shopping site, South China Morning Post reports. Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad, notes, however, that the 86 games in question are “an old list that has been republished.” “This is just JD enforcing a policy which requires video games to be licensed / approved before they can be sold in China,” the analyst added. “The reason this list is so specific, and doesn’t just list every unlicensed game, is because these titles have been targeted specifically for certain elements such as overtly political, violent, or adult content in the games that regulators find objectionable.”
“When it comes to this category of goods, JD will make such high-pressure clean-up the norm,” said the company via Game Developer, reflecting the company’s newly discovered fervor to comply with the tightening regulations at home.
This week, China’s gaming regulator National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) prohibited underage gamers from playing more than three hours a week. Analysts, however, speculated that the new restriction won’t affect gamers “operating in a legal grey area.” Not to mention that a lot of gamers on the “grey market” platforms are adults, who are not targeted by the new regulation.
True, overseas platforms like Steam and other sites outside the NPPA’s jurisdiction continue to allow users to bypass restrictions. In fact, vendors use code names and fake art to sell unlicensed titles. For example, Resident Evil 2: Remake has been conveniently available for sale disguised as First Day on the Job at the Police Station: Remake. Or Fried Cold Rice 2. Or Come Beat Me 2. Or Biochemical Crisis.
For years, JD.com has been one of those vendors operating under the regulator’s radar and selling unlicensed games. Now, however, in a rare display of self-censorship, the platform commited to upholding China’s constitution and national security law and ban any games that promote vulgarity, pornography, gambling and violence.
There you have it. NPPA’s restrictions might not directly target the country’s grey market. But what if the grey market starts self-regulating of its own accord?