CBN Friday Special丨Does spring finally come for gaming industry as new licenses “unfroze” ?

发布日期:2022-11-21 01:12    点击次数:159

CBN Friday Special丨Does spring finally come for gaming industry as new licenses “unfroze” ?

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S: Hello, everyone. Welcome to CBN Friday Special, I’m Stephanie Li.

R: And I’m Zhang Ran.

S: Hey, Ran, I remember that you like to play mobile games, right?

R: Yes, I always enjoy playing games in my leisure time, because they give me chances to experience different lives and stories. For example, recently I’ve been fascinated by a game called “Master of Pottery,” in which I can not only design and make my unique pottery works, but also run an exhibition hall of my own. It’s so funny and relaxing that I’ve always wanted to try it! In fact, the game was released in 2019, but was later removed from the game store because it didn’t receive a publication license. Last month, the game finally got its license and became available on Steam.

S: Oh, I know what you are talking about. After 8 months of license freeze, China’s National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) finally approved a new list of games in April, marking a positive signal for the world’s most significant gaming industry. You now, in China, all games require  publication license to release. Games are under the NPPA monitoring, and all game contents require a thorough evaluation before the NPPA can approve them before appearing on the market. However, the NPPA halted the game licensing in July 2021, which posed great challenges to domestic gaming firms, especially small and medium-sized ones.

The 8-month hiatus is part of Beijing’s policy tightening on the video game industry, which put strict limits on playing time for minors last August. Under that rule, game companies are required to ensure they have implemented a verification system for “real-name” registration, and are barred from providing services to users who aren’t registered. Companies thus had to reapply with updated information showing that they have installed such a system for each title they filed for approval.

R: The long-awaited license approval is conducive to the whole gaming industry, but it doesn’t mean that game studios can all sleep in comfort, particularly for some smaller companies that did not manage to get through the winter. In fact, among the new list of approved games, most are from small and medium-sized game manufacturers. However,  these companies have been struggling to stay afloat. For instance, some got into problems with operations in the past year and are currently unable to be reached, while some companies' websites are temporarily unavailable.

According to media reports, over 14,000 small studios and gaming-related businesses closed doors in 2021 after license approval was halted. And big names like NetEase, Baidu, Lilith, IGG, and Perfect World have all been forced to re-organise or even disband staff during the “long winter”. 

S: In fact, compared to larger companies with more abundant game titles in their reserves, smaller companies are usually the hardest hit by the license freeze policy. For the latter, sales from one or two titles accounted for most of their earnings. Thus, smaller companies are far more dependent on the launch of new titles. And some small- and medium-sized companies had to scale back new business expansion plans and trim staff to reduce costs. 

R: Larger companies are not i妹妹une to the recent regulatory headwinds either. NetEase and Tencent Holdings, the industry’s two largest players by sales, have seen their shares tumble over the past year, reflecting investors’ concerns about regulatory uncertainty. Shares of NetEase have been slashed by nearly 30 percent and those of Tencent are more than halved since their peak in February 2021.

Resuming license approval is without doubt a good news for the gaming industry. However, there are just a handful of Chinese companies behind the creation of the 45 newly-approved games, and they account for less than half of the 87 titles granted last July. And the monthly average number of issued license has declined from 765 in 2017 to 57 in 2021. Gaming companies will face more intense competition amid the tightened regulation. 

S: That’s one of the reasons why gaming companies including NetEase are also ramping up their push into overseas markets. Experts said that as long as the demand of licenses exceeds the supply, launching games overseas will remain a must for gaming firms. A total of 38 Chinese game publishers made their way onto the April list of the top 100 global mobile game publishers in terms of revenue, according to mobile app data analysis firm Sensor Tower. Last month, the 38 Chinese game developers garnered over 2.3 billion U.S. dollars worldwide, taking up 41.8 percent of the total revenue generated by the top 100 firms on the Apple App Store and Google Play. 

R: But going overseas isn’t the solution for all their problems. At the end of the day, the huge domestic market may still be the major stage for most of gaming companies, especially smaller ones. After all, China remains the world’s largest gaming market, with sales increasing by 6.4 percent to reach over 290 billion yuan ($46 billion) in 2021, according to the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association.

S: Facing increasingly fierce competitions, gaming firms need to improve the quality of their products. For example, Tencent said on Wednesday that they will release fewer games than before, and focus on developing products with bigger investment and higher quality, as users’ standards of games are also evolving.

Also, it’s vital that they strictly follow the regulations that give bigger chances to gain license approval. For example, among the 45 games that received licenses last month, most do not require players to invest a lot of money or time, which is in line with the regulation against video game addiction. 

R: But the problem is, these leisure games are offered to players for free while developers make money through placement of advertisements within the games. Unlike traditional video games, they often lack a stable fan base, meaning they must spend heavily to grow a big enough user base of players to attract advertisers. 

S: It’s indeed a difficult joggle. But there are still some other directions they could take. Games that promote positive moral values would go well with regulators. For example, the game "The Way Forward" with the theme of the Long March focuses on historical event, and "Master of Pottery" promotes Chinese culture. 

R: These are some good examples. And don’t forget the importance of creating a game that can better adapt products to the development and changes of the market. As firms are competing for fewer new titles, they still trail their international rivals in creative design though they have caught up in areas such as technology.

S: The good news is, local governments are stepping up policy supports to build their own healthy and fast-growing gaming industry. For instance, the Hainan provincial government has issued several beneficial documents to help the development of the game industry since 2021. In April last year, the Ministry of Co妹妹erce issued a document in which it proposed to "support Hainan's development of the online game industry.” And there are four game companies from Hainan which did win the latest license approval. The government's support shows that the market is gradually paying attention to the potential and innovation of small and medium-sized gaming enterprises. 

R: Moreover, China’s top political consultative body reaffirmed the country's support for the digital economy on Tuesday, which injected much-needed confidence in China's digital prowess. Tencent’s gaming sector remained generally stable in the first quarter of 2022 with 43.6 billion yuan in revenue, among which revenue from the domestic gaming market edged down 1 percent to reach 33 billion yuan, beating forecasts, the titan’s latest financial report said on Wednesday. 

Also, Tencent has pushed for overseas growth since last year, with over 10 billion yuan of revenue from the international gaming market in the first quarter, up 4 percent year on year, offsetting the downward pressure at home. Moreover, Tencent is developing new games to boost the potential for growth, with two of its new games released in the past two months and winning high places in games ranking.

S: So for top-tier companies like Tencent, the resuming of game license approval has brought their gaming sectors back to lives. And it sent a signal to the industry that long-term prospect remains positive, as the market has gradually warmed up and recouped from the regulatory crackdown. 

R: Right, all the talking made me want to play some game now. Hey Stephanie, do you still play “Hornor of the Kings”? Care to join me for a round?

S: You bet I do! That’s my all-time favourite! So what do you think about my avatar’s new costume......

网络游戏版号颠末八个月的“穷冬”,终于迎来第一个“春季”。

4月11日,国家消息出版署官网时隔8个月颁布了最新的网络游戏审批信息后,共有45款游戏在这一批次中获患有版号。

而在版号光复时光未知的八个月中,游戏公司阅历了名目砍半、裁员降本、股价触底等多重风云。对部份企业来说,版号重启迪放,曾经是早退的好消息。据报道,健康世界在这一批获取版号的45家公司中,有部份公司的规画状况出现了极度。个中,有公司如今处于没法联系的形态,亦有部份公司的网站姑且没法拜访。数据发挥阐发,2021年版号平息发放的五个月内,共有1.4万家游戏相干公司挂号。

不好看出,与拥有雄厚游戏资源的游戏巨头相比,受版号停发影响更大的每每是中小型游戏企业。但这着实不意味着游戏巨头可以或许幸免个中。游戏巨头网易游戏和腾讯游戏受版号停发影响股价大跌,相比去年2月高位,如今网易股价跌幅近30%,腾讯以至已腰斩。而在去年版号停发的八个月里,网易、baidu、莉莉丝和完美世界等游戏公司亦不能不裁员降薪。

不过,版号光复发放,也不意味着游戏企业就可高枕无忧。数据发挥阐发,版号越来越稀缺已成现实。此次发放版号的数量一共45个,而上一次发放版号照旧去年7月,一共87个,此次削减了近一半。据统计,2017至2021年,每年月均下发的版号数量呈逐渐逐年递减的态势。2017年匀称每个月发放765个版号,2018年为288个,2019年为114个,2020年为109个,2021年每个月匀称仅发57个。

游戏财富怎么样应对更加猛烈的版号竞争?游戏企业给出的保留之道,一是出海,另外一个则是提升游戏品格。

在版号光复日期未知的这段时光中,为了升高自身运营危险,多家游戏厂商都抉择将出海作为2022年倒退的重点误差。业内人士指出,既定的出海盘算着实不会因为版号的光复而平息,因为版号发放的数量限定导致的供不应求,游戏出海对国内厂商来说照样一项“刚需”。痛处移动应用数据阐发公司Sensor Tower的数据,今年4月,全球营收前100名的移动游戏发行商中,共有38家中国游戏发行商上榜。上个月,它们在全球获患有逾越23亿美元的收入,占苹果App Store和googlePlay前100家公司总收入的41.8%。

其他,游戏厂商也需在自身的内容上进一步举行打磨。譬如,在5月18日的一季度财报电话聚会会议上,腾讯打点层默示,相比之前,腾讯的游戏产品数量要少,然则更为聚焦于研发和推出投资更大的游戏产品。用户的品尝接续提升,对游戏产品的品格哀告也越来越高,需求腾讯在几个相比大的游戏作品上投入更多资源。

业内人士觉得,版号请求最首要的照旧内容的合规,这给游戏企业带来的启迪是,在产品的盘算和临蓐中,要在内容层面更为严谨,担保内容健康和对市场的畏敬之心。譬如,此次获取版号的45款游戏中,休闲、角色扮演、计策游戏是首要范例,玩家在个中投入的时光、款项成本都更小,吻合网络游戏防陷溺的规定。但关于收费的休闲游戏,收入起原首要来自游戏中植入的广告,这就意味着,游戏企业需求投入资金以倒退玩家局限,以吸引广告商的投入。这又让中小企业陷入困难。

此次获批的部份游戏,也供应相识决困难的角度。比喻:留念长征为主题的《前进之路》,将卡牌计策与着实历史相领悟,让玩家在严重历史节点中做出准确的抉择;保留仿照类游戏《荣誉打工人》,玩家需求扮演一名贫困费力的打工人,为自身和家人争夺更好的糊口生计;陶艺主题的发现兼仿照规画类游戏《陶艺人人》,宏扬了中华优异文化——这些游戏给面临困难的企业做了榜样:要想在竞争中脱颖而出,盘算一款题材雄厚、又兴许发挥阐发现实主义和宏扬声张主旋律的游戏作品无疑是个好编制。

值得一提的是,此次获批的游戏中,有部份企业的鼓起离不开腹地当地政策的扶持。海南腹地当地就出台了多项利好文件助力游戏财富的倒退——此次名单中,来自海南的游戏企业则有4家。2021年4月,商务部印发了《海南省服务业扩开展放综合试点整体规划》,该规划中提出“探索将国产网络游戏试点审批权下放海南,支持海南倒退网络游戏财富”。这也分化,游戏市场关注到了内容的产出不应仅会合在北上广深或是一些头部企业,也应更为关注中小企业的潜能和翻新性。

光复发放游戏版号后,游戏业在逐渐消化禁锢收紧等影响,种种利好要素正在逐渐储备累积,行业曙光渐现。5月17日天下政协召开“推动数字经济继续健康倒退”专题协商会,给中国的数字经济企业注入了刻意决定信心。

腾讯新宣布的财报中,游戏板块的“根蒂根基盘”对立颠簸。腾讯5月18日宣布的一季度财报透露,游戏业务收入436亿元;若计入交际网络业务的手游部份,总收入达到524亿,均对立根蒂根基颠簸。个中来自国内游戏市场的收入小幅下落1%,达到330亿元,超出了阐发师的预期。其他,腾讯从2021年起头推动海内促成,第一季度来自国际游戏市场的收入逾越100亿元,同比促成4%,抵消了国内的上行压力;据相识,腾讯正在开发新游戏,夙昔两月共宣布两款新游戏,在游戏排行榜上金榜题名。

Executive Editor: Sonia YU

Editor: LI Yanxia

Host: Stephanie LI

Writer: Stephanie LI, ZHANG Ran, CHEN Zihui, XIE Kaishan

Sound Editor: ZHANG Ran

Graphic Designer: ZHENG Wenjing, LIAO Yuanni

Co-produced by 21st Century Business Herald Dept. of Overseas News & SFC Audio/Video Dept.

Presented by SFC

编委:  于晓娜

策动、编辑:李艳霞 

播音:李莹亮

撰稿:李莹亮、张然、陈梓慧、谢凯珊

音频制作:张然 

盘算:郑文静、廖苑妮

21世纪经济报道海外部 南财音视频部  联合制作

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