On Monday we talked about some of the pressures stacking up on TikTok: increasing skepticism from Congress about its Chinese parent company ByteDance; a raft of new competitors slurping up venture capital and building their own short-form video apps powered by machine learning; and the public-perception risk that comes from keeping executives behind the scenes and responding to questions primarily via blog post.In it, Vanessa Pappas, TikTok’s general manager for the United States, laid out her case that the management team behind the app is and will remain independent of demands from the Chinese government.The company is building out a US-based leadership team, a US-based content moderation team; and localized community guidelines.It pledged to work with US regulators.TikTok’s data centers are located entirely outside of China.His company had taken “the wrong path,” he wrote, and, along the way, he had “failed his users.” Perhaps it was not entirely coincidental that his words echoed a notice posted by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the country’s media regulator, which accused Bytedance of making apps that offended common sensibility—the news stories on Jinri Toutiao were “opposed to morality” and the jokes on Neihan Duanzi were “off-color.” For these reasons, the state said, the platforms had “triggered intense resentment among Internet users.”
Qualcomm and Tencent are cooperating on projects to optimize user experience for the Chinese company’s video games on devices powered by the US firm’s chips, as well as on creating a 5G version of a Tencent-backed gaming phone, they said on Monday.Why it matters: Tencent, one of the world’s largest gaming companies, is seeking new areas for growth as gaming revenues flag amid increased scrutiny by Chinese authorities.The country’s publication watchdog, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, suspended video game licensing in March 2018 until the end of the year, dramatically impacting Tencent’s game business.Tencent’s revenue from gaming fell 4% year on year in the third quarter of 2018 while fourth quarter revenues were flat compared with the same period a year earlier.Details: Under the agreement, future Tencent games will be optimized for Android phones that run Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Elite gaming chips, the companies said.Tencent and Qualcomm plan to jointly develop a 5G version of a gaming phone which the Chinese company is developing with Republic of Games, the gaming division of Asustek Computer Inc.
China’s top video game regulator, the State Administration of Press and Publication (SAPP) began accepting new game approval submissions on Monday after a two-month hiatus, while implementing a new and more detailed approval process, according to game media outlet GameLook.The new requirements were initially disclosed in a post from the official WeChat account of Yifan Publications, an agency that helps game companies apply for approvals.As of writing, the agency has taken down the article, and there are no updates about the new requirements on the website for State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), the government body that SAPP replaced.In the absence of its own website, SAPP uses the website of the now-defunct SAPPRFT to send out notices.While not yet officially confirmed, the new rules were reportedly released by SAPP on Apr.Titles that “lack cultural value” or “blindly imitate others,” as well as those that are “excessively entertaining” will be rejected.
New regulations from the government — who must approve all new games within the country — won’t be approving any games that feature blood, card games, or palace intrigue.China stopped taking applications for such licenses several months ago in order to work through those they already had, and it also began imposing limits on playtime for children.Now the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (try saying that five times fast) is putting stricter regulations on which games it’ll grant licenses to, and that no longer includes bloody poker games taking place in Imperial China.According to Gizmodo, the ban on blood will include anything that behaves like blood, so no longer will games be able to skate by on blood-adjacent fluids (a common tactic to avoid the censors).The managing director of the Hong Kong Poker Players Association told the South China Morning Post the game was “back to square one,” and said this would adversely affect poker tournaments in neighboring countries — since Chinese players can no longer discuss the game on social media, they’ll no longer know which tournaments to enter.It’s apparently an attempt to cut down on glamorized versions of China’s imperial history.
China content regulator requests pause in new game application – ReutersWhat happened: China’s top content regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) issued a notice to local authorities this week, asking them to stop submitting applications to monetize new video games, Reuters reported, quoting three people with knowledge of the matter.The pause is intended to enable the regulator to process the applications that built up during a nine-month freeze on new game licenses last year.Game companies can still submit applications to local authorities, but they won’t be passed on to the top regulator.Why it’s important: The pause comes less than three months after SAPPRFT resumed its approval of new video games.Without SAPPRFT approval, companies can distribute but not monetize games as has been the case for two of the hit games that gaming giant Tencent’s distribute in China, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite.
China finally grants a game license to Tencent-TechCrunchWhat happened: Tencent and NetEase have finally been issued licenses for new game titles.Two games developed by Tencent and one by NetEase have been included on a list of nearly 200 titles that were assigned licenses in January by China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television.Why it’s important: Chinese regulators restarted the approval process in December following a nine month moratorium on granting licenses.Tencent and NetEase, two of China’s most prominent game developers, were excluded from the first three batches of the approvals.The licenses are typically granted on a first-come, first-served basis, and titles are reviewed in order according to their application dates.
Tencent has finally come out of a prolonged freeze on game approvals as Beijing granted licenses to two of its mobile games this month.According to a notice published by China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television on Thursday, Tencent is one of nearly 200 games assigned licenses in January.That’s big news for the Shenzhen-based firm which has seen its share price plummet in the past months because the licensing halt crippled its ability to generate gaming revenues.Tencent is best known for its immensely popular WeChat messenger, but games contribute a bulk of its earnings.Both games approved are for educational purposes so are unlikely to generate income at the level of Tencent’s more lucrative role-playing titles, such as Honor of Kings.Tencent has been at the center of government criticisms on games deemed harmful and addictive, and the firm has subsequently introduced so-called “utility games” in 2018 designed to promote traditional Chinese culture, science and technology.
China approves third batch of video games; still no Tencent — ReutersWhat happened: China’s broadcasting regulator on Tuesday approved the release of a third batch of video games.None of the 93 approved titles on the list were from Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company.Tencent’s domestic rival NetEase was also absent from the list for the third time.So far, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television has approved nearly 260 gaming titles since late December 2018, when the approval process resumed.Why it’s important: China stopped granting video game licenses between March and December 2018, amid a restructuring of various government departments.
China is finally permitting new games to begin earning revenue there for the first time since March.The country issued 80 licenses to primarily domestic developers making mobile games.This will enable these apps to go on sale or to begin offering premium in-game purchases.The Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television that regulates video games posted a list of the new licenses on its website.This should help investors regain some confidence about the $30 billion Chinese gaming industry.It should also help bolster the stock price for major domestic publishers like Tencent and Netease — although that may take some time.
For almost ten months now government regulators in China have had a ban on the release of any new online video games, requiring all titles to be submitted for review in an indefinite approval process.Last week that ban was finally lifted, with the country’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television approving the release of 80 new games.The list of titles has now been published, and surprising the industry is that the country’s largest gaming company, Tencent, has been completely excluded.Outside of China, Tencent is most recognized for its WeChat app, which acts as both a messaging and mobile payment platform.But it’s also the largest company in China’s gaming industry, and releasing new titles is how it makes most of its money.Tencent owns the extremely popular game Arena of Valor (or Honor of Kings for the Chinese market), and is a partner for the local releases of both Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Last week, WeChat announced a number of new incentives to encourage innovative mini-program game developers.Under the scheme, developers who apply for and receive the title of “creative game” for their game will be allowed to take a bigger cut of both in-game purchases and advertisement earnings, as well as other perks.The change was announced amid a general cool-down of China’s gaming industry, which has hit WeChat’s parent company Tencent especially hard.Claiming that too much gaming is bad for kids’ eyesight – which research shows may be true, if only indirectly – in March China’s government stopped approving new games.In more recent months the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television has also vowed to limit the amount of time youth can spend on online games.But despite a drop in earnings, WeChat appears to be pushing through with their mini-program initiative.
It’s illegal to launch a video game in China without government approval, so the move shelved game releases that haven’t been greenlit.And now, government sources are telling reporters that it could take another four to six months before the government starts granting licenses again.The cause of the lengthy delay is bureaucratic: authority over gaming licenses is being shifted away from the Ministry of Culture and the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), which the government broke up earlier this year.Control over gaming licenses will now rest with the Communist Party’s Central Propaganda Department and the State Administration of Press and Publication, one of the smaller bureaucratic organizations that has risen from the ashes of SAPPRFT.But until the power transition is complete, authorities are reportedly hesitant to stick their necks out by approving anything, which means that the lockout for China’s game companies – including US$380 billion giant Tencent – is set to continue.Additionally, government figures and state media have repeatedly expressed concerns about many popular video games, fearing they may be too violent and violate socialist core values.
Shares of Tencent and NetEase dipped Friday morning as the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television of China (SAPPRFT) rolled out regulations against online games Thursday night.According to the government paper, the Administration will regulate and control the total number of online games and limit the number of new online game titles.The Administration will also work on a content rating system that carries age recommendations and limit the time the underage can play online games for.Further regulation on games is likely to worsen the already gloomy license situation in the gaming industry.Earlier in August, Tencent said a freeze on game approvals from Chinese authorities has negatively affected its revenues and it did not know when the situation would be resolved.Gaming revenues are the biggest source of income for Tencent.
The Chinese government has to approve every game that goes on sale in that country, which is a problem considering it hasn’t approved any new digital games since March 28 — that even includes games from domestic developers.China spends more money on games than any other country, including the United States, according to research firm Niko Partners.And it looks like it will continue to do so, but gaming fans in that country may have to focus on older releases.The issues stem from shifts within the Chinese government.The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) was previously responsible for approving games, but now it has spun off a new group called the State Administration of Radio and TV (SART) that has taken over the role.The other agency, the Ministry of Culture, has continued to examine and provide permits to various games since March.
Following the passage of a new cybersecurity law and the removal of term limits from Chinese president Xi Jinping, China’s government is conducting a comprehensive crackdown on online discussions and content, with few companies spared the rod by the central government.Among the casualties has been Bytedance, the extremely high-flying $20 billion media unicorn startup which was forced to publicly apologize for content that degraded the character of the nation.The company announced that it would expand the number of human censors from 6,000 to 10,000.The app is unique among China’s top social networks in focusing on ordinary Chinese, and is known for its focus on people outside of large cities like Beijing and Shanghai.Meanwhile, over at Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like service, the company announced on Friday that it would ban violent and gay content from its service, following instructions from the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television.LGBT content has been in the crosshairs of the country’s media regulators for years; for example, censors banned “abnormal sexual behaviors” from being depicted in any media or mobile apps in 2017, a term which includes homosexuality.
Tencent has suspended the ability to play short videos in its WeChat and QQ messaging apps, requiring users to copy the link and paste it in their browser to the view the videos, local media is reporting.The suspension will prevent users from viewing videos from the company’s own Weishi platform, along with content from Douyin, Kuaishou, and Xigua Video.The move comes amidst a broader crackdown on online content.Bytedance’s apps have received a great deal of attention from China’s media regulator, The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT).Last week, it was told to better control the “inappropriate” content on its Jinri Toutiao platform.Issuing the same order to Kuaishou, SAPPRFT said that dealing with vulgar content was of “high importance.”
Jinri Toutiao founder and CEO, Zhang Yiming, released an open letter of apology today, after the removal of Neihan Duanzi from app stores, our sister site TechNode Chinese is reporting.Yesterday, the State Administration of Radio and Television (SAPPRFT) ordered Toutiao to permanently close down Toutiao’s joke app Neihan Duanzi (内涵段子) for vulgar content.The announcement followed only a day after SAPPRFT ordered the suspension of Toutiao app and three other popular news apps.In the open letter, Zhang said:“Jinri Toutiao will permanently shut down the Neihan Duanzi and the app’s official account.The product took the wrong turn.
The State Administration of Radio and Television (SAPPRFT) has ordered the permanent closure of Jinri Toutiao’s jokes app Neihan Duanzi (内涵段子 “implied jokes”) for vulgar content, the day after it ordered the removal of the main Jinri Toutiao news app from China’s app stores for three weeks.The announcement orders the removal of the Neihan Duanzi app from users devices and from the company’s official accounts.The regulator hopes Toutiao will see this as an example when it looks at reforming other parts of its offering, according to the notice.Neihan Duanzi predates the Jinri Toutiao app, our sister publication reports (in Chinese), and offers a collection of short silly videos, photos, jokes, and memes.“In its investigation into the website rectification work of “Jinri Toutiao”, the State Administration of Radio and Television found prominent issues of irregular, improper [content] in the user software [app] and public accounts of the company’s “Neihan Duanzi”, which triggered strong resentment among internet users.In order to maintain the order of the transmission of audiovisual programs online and a clean audiovisual environment in the internet space, according to relevant laws and regulations, the bureau ordered “Jinri Toutiao” to permanently shut down the user software and public accounts for “Neihan Duanzi” and asked the company to infer the meaning of this move and comprehensively clean up its audiovisual products.”
Kuaishou, a leading short video platform in China, is planning to add around 3,000 content checkers (in Chinese) to its existing 2,000-member team in order to help filter content deemed illegal or inappropriate by the authority.According to the job description, the candidates should hold a bachelor degree or higher, have “high-level of morality and political awareness”, and preferably be members of the Communist Youth League or the Communist Party.Kuaishou already maintains a sizable censor factory that operates in six cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Wuxi, Wuhan, Harbin, and Yancheng.This new recruitment spree could be translated as a measure to cope with the government crackdown on vulgar content.China’s internet watchdog SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television) issued an order to Kuaishou to clean up their contents last week, shortly after the platform was exposed by state media CCTV for its failure to censor videos featuring teenage moms.Crackdowns like this are being launched with increasing frequency, affecting pretty much every major content-generating platform in China.
China’s regulator for the media and entertainment sector, SAPPRFT (State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television), has just released a public statement (in Chinese) on their official WeChat account ordering Jinri Toutiao and Kuaishou to start cleaning up their sites and clamping down “inappropriate” content.The SAPPRFT said in the statement that the issue with vulgar content is regarded as “high importance” and that it has summoned and questioned the person-in-charge at both Jinri Toutiao and Kuaishou.The government seems to be moving its crackdown on vulgar content up a notch.In the statement, the SAPPRFT criticizes both video streaming sites for letting vulgar content run rampant on their platforms and thereby ordering both Toutiao and Kuaishou to:To remove all content regarded as “vulgar, violent, bloody, sexual, and harmful.”Thoroughly examine all existing user accounts and, in the meantime, no new user accounts can be added to their sites.