China reveals censorship rules for console games -- Nothing that promotes drug use or violence will be allowed

Blocked content includes anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use, violence, or gambling; games also can't harm public ethics or China’s culture and traditions.

The Chinese government has published a list of censorship rules for console games in the country, and it's fairly extensive and will seemingly impact a large number of games. A news release translated by Games In Asia outlines the rules, which arrive after China lifted its 14-year ban on console games earlier this year.

All games must be approved by the Shanghai government culture department and the approval process for games is said to take no longer than 20 days. Content that will not be allowed in games sold in China includes the following:

  • Gambling-related content or game features
  • Anything that violates China’s constitution
  • Anything that threatens China’s national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.
  • Anything that harms the nation’s reputation, security, or interests.
  • Anything that instigates racial/ethnic hatred, or harms ethnic traditions and cultures.
  • Anything that violates China’s policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions.
  • Anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use, violence, or gambling.
  • Anything that harms public ethics or China’s culture and traditions.
  • Anything that insults, slanders, or violates the rights of others.
  • Other content that violates the law

Games that are denied will be returned with the reason for their rejection clearly stated, Games In Asia reports. As such, developers are likely to be able to alter their games and resubmit them if they wish. The report doesn't lay out any specific examples of games that would make the cut, but you'd have to imagine that contentious games like Grand Theft Auto V would be rejected.

China's new console game rules also state that game updates like DLC need to be submitted for approval, even if the main game in question was already approved. This is a significant and potentially problematic point when you consider how frequently some games are updated today.

The lifting of China's longheld console ban would seem to be a boon for platform holders like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. However, it remains to be seen what impact it will have on the fortunes of those companies. China began its console ban in 2000, following concerns about potential harm to the physical and mental development of children.

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.

Discussion

462 comments
sanchango
sanchango

So what you're saying is, Soda Drinker Pro will be available in China?! :D WOOO!!!

Unfallen_Satan
Unfallen_Satan

Meh. It's easy to skirt these regulations on the PC, as Chinese people have done for years. The government doesn't really mind so long as it's not political, and the gaming underground knows not to touch that with a ten-foot clown pole.

The only thing that bothers me about the news is that we may get some grotesquery of a game where police officers (or Nazis) are changed to zombies. I feel sorry for gamers who have to buy games whose content is changed significantly, sometimes ridiculously, to comply with local law. Just don't buy.

muckilytosh
muckilytosh

- -People don't buy games in China..They have torrents..<So glad I'm in HK..>

musalala
musalala

If you think about it this is a good thing it will force developers to make diverse games, its becoming pretty annoying that every game is all dark and grisly  with oodles of violence,sex,exploding heads and swearing. Can't we have more games like animal crossing or portal?

tightwad34
tightwad34

So why even allow video games then? And way to keep an open mind China. You sure are doing well to assure the rest of the world you are trying.

hornspiller
hornspiller

Of course the chinese government will not allow anything that promotes violence. The government wants total monopoly on the use of violence.



cctv100
cctv100

Compared to the Western, China is still a very traditional country that certain things appearing very common in western countries are unacceptable in countries like China. 

wallacom
wallacom

So basically Shitty indies, and no AAA Games.

HowlPendragon
HowlPendragon

Sounds like only Nintendo will thrive in China

rob19ny
rob19ny

Wow, so not even Mario games can be released in China then. lol smh

funkyzoom
funkyzoom

This is just so ridiculous. I suppose the Chinese government does have more severe issues to tackle, than banning video games.

Bortson
Bortson

So basically every game out there will be banned. Something as innocent as a card game could be considered gambling.

In a land of cheap knock offs, the smart phone s*** shovelware will thrive since its the stuff that would pass under a literal interpretation of these guidelines.

hystavito
hystavito

China is so backwards.  Unlike the west, they haven't figured out how to go democratic AND still have total control of their citizens :).

hystavito
hystavito

Maybe they would pass GTA5 because it makes fun of America :).

somepandabear
somepandabear

Brick games would definitely pass!  What a primitive culture.

vader501st
vader501st

Says the government who throws people's fetuses in the dumpster. Brilliant.

deadpen
deadpen

Well it looks like the Wii U is about to have record sales in China.

seven7swords
seven7swords

LoL Communism... 


Might as well put "Any game stimulating to a person age 15 and up" as a bullet.

djentmaven
djentmaven

F China! I am so grateful I live in a country where I can make my own decisions.


Zloth2
Zloth2

And what if a game isn't sold - as in "free" to play games?

Ah, who am I kidding?  Buying any game in China is already almost impossible given all the piracy going on.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

It's official! The worst places in the world to be a gamer (excluding 3rd world countries for obvious reasons) are China, Australia and Germany. Kudos for being tight assed-political cowards.

DrKill09
DrKill09

I thought drugs and violence WAS a Chinese tradition?

tsunami2311
tsunami2311

well that pretty much  more then half the games on the market

nurnberg
nurnberg

It's like they took these rules straight from Gamefaqs forum's TOS.

Aelfredus
Aelfredus

So if a game harms China's reputation it's banned but if it harms other countries' reputation it's alright?

gulagone
gulagone

I guess if the game is developed in China the rules are out the window.  Remember Glorious Mission Online.  It violates points 3,4,5,7, and 8.  Then again that was not a CONSOLE game.  Looks like all the devs will have to break the rules for PC games, which is fine because most of China's gamers are not console. Thanks to 14 year ban.  Go China!

Sam_021
Sam_021

More like China bans all games out there!

gulagone
gulagone

Looks like it's mahjong till you die!

xcollector
xcollector

If only the Chinese government held themselves up to those same standards China could be a better place.

ggregd
ggregd

Sounds vague enough that they can ban any game they want and come up with a reason.

"Anything that violates China’s policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions."

Where the heck do you draw that line?

ghostlungs420
ghostlungs420

@musalala There is a place fort hoose kind of games. But there is no place in human rights for the censorship of art, and who is to say what is and what is not art. Personally I find Screaming as an Instrument grotesque but i don't think it should be banned. I also think listening to sad music when you are sad is counter productive but i don't want to ban sad music either. Freedom to the people, everywhere, everyhow, as long as they don't infrige on the right and comforts of others, to a resonible extent. You can't ban offensiveness. Once you ban you create a black market, as someone metioned, torents, mod chips, imports,  same goes for drugs and prostitution.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

Don't forget products of extremely poor quality and human slave trade!

bk2fut
bk2fut

@Aelfredus  No different to American games. The US are always the heroes and Russia and China are slandered as the villains :P

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

If only China was this strict with their environmental policies. They literally have none. They dump toxic waste on farm lands and their cities filled with smog

hystavito
hystavito

@ggregd  Of course, they can draw the line anywhere they want :).

Zloth2
Zloth2

@ggregd At religions that aren't officially recognized by China.  They're following the USSR on that front.


tonyyu1996
tonyyu1996

@wallacom @cctv100  dont be so silly.what about the gun shot on teenagers in the US.what?slave?r u kidding me?i thought you had better roll back to the middle europe or the big bang cause that suits you well because you didnt know anything,but still balabla all the funny things.also,dictatorship is also ridiculous.Plz shut the fxxk up until thoroughly figure out something.

musalala
musalala

@wallacom @cctv100  LOL as opposed to the western countries like America that instigate wars based on lies or sabotage entire governments for greed and exploitation. The only difference between America and the china is America has why better PR and propaganda machines.

DrKill09
DrKill09

@Gravity_Slave  Honestly, I buy most of my tools from Harbor Freight, and it's all made in China... yet they last longer than Craftsman tools do now days.