The National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), the regulatory body governing China’s video game licensing, issued 60 licenses (ISBNs) on June 5, 2022 (Published publicly on June 7). This is the second batch of games to be issued a license after a 263-day long freeze on game approvals which ended in April 2022. This batch, as with the one in April, only included domestic games, 58 mobile games and 2 PC games. As a reminder to the reader, a license is required to legally launch a game in China. New licenses are announced in batches of domestically developed or import games, and until recently the batches had been fairly predicably once a month.

Notable games in this batch include:

  • Gu Jian Qi Tan II Mobile (mobile version of the popular PC game from Wangyuan Shengtang)
  • Black Cat (female-oriented mobile game from Perfect World)
  • World of Dragon Nest Mobile (mobile MMORPG based on the PC game IP from Shengqu Games)
  • Dynasty Legends 2 (hack & slash ARPG for mobile from Hero Games)
  • Shenwu 5 (new entry in the PC game franchise from Duoyi)
  • KeQiEr Frontline / 科契尔前线 (An unannounced mobile game from miHoYo)

We note that industry leaders Tencent and NetEase were not granted licenses in this batch, though they do have applications in the licensing queue.

The NPPA did not disclose why there wasn’t a batch of licenses announced in May 2022, but our research shows that this batch was issued in the same week that Beijing resumed work after a one-month suspension due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the city. Niko Partners currently assumes the NPPA to return to its regular cadence of issuing a minimum of one batch each month. It would not be out of the question for the NPPA to issue a second batch in June to make up for the lack of licenses in May, as it did multiple times in 2020. We still anticipate the first batch of import games to be issued licenses within the next two months, as per our previous blog post.

Certain games in this batch were marked under the 试点 category which would likely refer to an announcement by the State Council in September 2021 that stated it would allow eligible free trade zones to carry out the approval of video games in China. This is a positive sign for China’s games industry as it means companies operating in free trade zones might gain approval for games from the local government directly, without needing to go through Beijing. A total of 16 games in this batch were approved by local governments in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing.