China is further restricting access to unapproved foreign games, China has been leaving a gap open for individuals to access pirated video games for years, but it is about to remove it. Because many international titles lack a Chinese publishing partner like Tencent to assist them in obtaining the government-issued license required to operate in the country, users typically rely on an “accelerator” to shorten the time it takes to play games hosted outside.
Tencent, the world’s largest online gaming firm, stated on Wednesday that its gaming booster, which lets users play games from other countries, will be discontinued. Despite the fact that it is not stated clearly in the notification, some users see the decision as the government moving up to restrict access to overseas gaming. Tencent’s competitor NetEase has a comparable service that is still operational.
The National Radio and Television Administration, which grants video game licenses in China, warned on Friday that platforms will be “strictly barred” from live streaming games that have not been permitted by the government. Before broadcasting international sports or matches, platforms, including their personal and commercial accounts, should get authorization, according to the notification.
This could significantly reduce the number of games that China’s live-streaming presenters may discuss, perhaps putting many of them out of jobs, given China’s recent slowdown in the clearance process for new games. Although many foreign titles are not legally accessible in China, there is a sizable demand for commentary and matches of blockbuster international games via China’s live streaming sites such as Huya and Douyu.
Similar warnings have been issued by the government in the past. For example, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, which regulates gaming but does not grant licenses, stated in a blanket guideline for “online performances” in 2016 that platforms “should not” offer criticism on unlicensed games, a weaker statement than the newest declaration.