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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.

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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.

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