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” ?


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......







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%。







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






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