A dozen Chinese gaming companies including Tencent Holdings and NetEase Inc have jointly proposed a new system of for rating digital games amid tighter regulation of the US$31 billion industry that has recently been decelerating industry growth.
The proposal, posted on the online edition of state newspaper People’s Daily, showed that games would be classified into four categories according to gamers’ physiological characteristics, cognitive ability and levels of moral development:
It also lists what content shouldn’t appear in games for each category. For example, casinos, drugs, bloody violence and racial discrimination, shouldn’t appear in games targeting 18+ gamers.
It’s unclear how the rating system will be enforced, but the online edition of People’s Daily said the system is expected to be applied nationwide after an expert committee of research institutions, media and game developers gave their feedback.
The proposal shows how eager China’s game developers are to cater to regulators in hope of more game licenses. Gaming developers in China need licenses for games sold domestically. But the process has been suspended since March 2018, as regulators clamped down on games-related addiction among teenagers.
A gaming market on a more stable footing would also mean more safe choices for advertisers. Brands faced great challenges in considering what games to choose when games were randomly removed or suspended from app stores.
OMD China said in its latest report on China gamers that mobile games are the first choice for advertisers, although sponsoring the most popular games comes with hefty price tags. “Brands will need to define both the roles of gaming cooperation and ROI expectations in their media strategies before making a decision,” the report said.
China’s gaming sales revenue reached 214.4 billion yuan (US$31 billion) in 2018, with the total number of users registered at 626 million by last year, according to a report released by the gaming industry association in December.