Chinese authorities have issued a new batch of video game publishing licenses. This time, the list only covers products made by domestic companies.
On April 20, the National Press and Public Administration (NPPA) published a list of 86 Chinese games approved for release in the country. There are new titles from large tech companies like ByteDance, Baidu, and Alibaba.
Niko Partners’ Daniel Ahmad noted that one of the games on the list is Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, a mobile MOBA developed by Shanghai-based developer Moonton. In 2021, TikTok owner ByteDance acquired the studio, which was then valued at $4 billion.
According to Niko Partners, Mobile Legends was the highest-grossing mobile title in Southeast Asia during the first quarter of 2023. After its launch in China, it will be competing with two other MOBA titles, Tencent’s Honor of Kings and Riot Games’ League of Legends: Wild Rift (also owned by Tencent).
Mobile Legends has generated over $1 billion from in-app purchases (via AppMagic). The US is the number one country by revenue, followed by Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The install data also indicates the game’s huge popularity in Southeast Asia, as Indonesia, Philippines, and Malaysia are the top three countries by downloads.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang lifetime revenue on iOs and Android (Source: AppMagic)
In the first quarter of 2023, the NPPA approved 288 video games, including 27 titles from foreign developers such as Merge Mansion, Gorogoa, and Spring Valley. Niko Partners expects the Chinese regulator to license 1,100 games this year, a huge improvement over 2022 and 2021 due to the 263-day licensing freeze.
For more insights on video game licensing in China, read our interview with mobile developer Playkot about the challenges it has faced to get a publishing license.