Lifelong gamer and connoisseur of all things anime.
This past week rumors surged stemming from a Reddit post that China has placed bans on various popular games, standout names including PUBG, Fortnite, Paladins, and H1Z1, while issuing a warning to other popular titles "in need of corrective action" such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft. These regulations, as purported by the Reddit post, originate from the new Online Gaming Ethics Review Committee that was established in China earlier this December 2018. From an assessment, they concluded that there were 20 online games that posed "ethical risks" to the China's population, where 9 are to be outright banned and 11 are in need of immediate remediation. Detailed below are the titles, causes, and recommended actions:
As of the time of writing, it has not been confirmed whether these claims are true or not, or if any actions have been taken by regulators to enforce these recommended actions, or publishers to abide by the actions. The Reddit thread that originated these details claims to be taking information from Chinese gaming forum NGA. It was also recently reported in the same thread that IT Home, a Chinese tech publication, has indeed confirmed that PUBG and League of Legends are indeed games on this list.
Nonetheless, it seems that as of the time of writing, which has been six days since the initial announcement of this "ethical risk" list, that there has been no official report of the games recommended to be prohibited/withdrawn being pulled from the gaming market in China as of yet.
Depending on the truth of this list, it is a sign of potential future trouble for the games industry. For major games such as PUBG, H1Z1, and Paladins, mainland Chinese players have been an overwhelming majority of its player base. Having such a huge population pulled from the game would greatly and surely damage the publishers behind these games, but the social implications of how that population might react when a game they've sunk in thousands of hours is ripped away from them is also a harrowing thought to entertain. The fact that many Chinese players who've enjoyed these games on the list may soon have their source of livelihood and escapism from the daily grind, and for some even a source of income, stripped from them is unfortunately no joke. Furthermore, games like League of Legends and Overwatch have even bigger audiences in China, and the social backlash that might happen, if the publishers for these do not acquiesce to the new regulations and end up getting the game banned, is unimaginable.
This list of recommended actions spells out even more issues for the overall gaming community, enveloping not only the audiences but also developers. If these kinds of actions are indeed to take place, there will come a time when developers have to face the question of whether they want to "conform" to third-party censoring so they could ensure their game successfully reaches all international markets. An example of this phenomena happened earlier this year in November when Ubisoft's highly successful Rainbow Six Siege was forced to tone down its art assets to meet China's censorship requirements. As part of this move, Ubisoft had to remove from the game things such as environmental blood splatter, and all depictions implying sexual content, gambling, and violence. To ensure the global community could still enjoy the original art assets, Ubisoft made the move to make two versions of Rainbow Six Siege: one released in Asia that complies with the Chinese censorship regulations, and one released for the rest of the global community with the original, unchanged art assets. Nonetheless, the notion that game developers may soon be strong-armed into complying with third-party regulations and censoring their content, is one that makes the future of gaming and games development unfortunately uncertain to behold.