China to restrict game sales based on content like gambling, violence

Since China temporarily lifted its ban on foreign video game consoles in January, it was a matter of time before the government offered new rules to regulate console and game distribution. According to a Shanghai government release translated by Games in Asia, those rules will dictate the kind of content that won't be allowed to be sold in the country, such gambiling-related game features.

Additionally, anything deemed threatening to "China's national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity" and content that "instigates racial/ethnic hatred" won't be distributable in the country. Games also may not promote "obscenity, drug use, violence or gambling," as well as cults and superstitions. Approved games cannot violate China's constitution, nor can they harm its culture, traditions and public ethics.

The policies state that foreign companies must work with a local company to produce consoles within the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, such as Sony's PlayStation 4 or Microsoft's Xbox One, the latter of which arrived in 26 more regions just last month. Plus, games in China must go through an approval process with Shanghai's culture department, which will take "no longer than 20 days." This applies to game updates with new content, such as DLC, even if the game itself was already approved. Lastly, all console games will be required to have a simplified Chinese version, so publishers won't be able to simply re-sell Hong Kong and Taiwan versions of their games.

[Image: Microsoft]