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China’s game licencing system to be extended to all mobile applications

China's contentious game licensing framework, which mandates government approval and collaboration with local publishers or the establishment of Chinese branches, is now slated to extend its reach to all mobile applications.

As reported by Reuters, the new regulations will necessitate all mobile app providers in China to register their particulars with the central government. This process would compel them to either establish a presence within China or partner with Chinese publishers, as many game developers and firms have already done.

China's game licensing system has already posed significant challenges for both domestic and international developers and publishers. A substantial licensing freeze effectively halted the authorization of new games from both local and foreign creators, sending shockwaves across the industry.

While the motives behind these measures might be noble, it's crucial to recognize that the companies best equipped to withstand the prolonged instability engendered by the licensing freeze are the largest ones, such as NetEase and Tencent. Consequently, smaller entities are more susceptible to financial strain or even closure as a result.

Ripple effects?

The expansion of these regulations to encompass all mobile apps—though not in the same explicit format as applied to games, involving individual license approvals—could present a significant predicament for smaller developers and publishers. This move also accentuates that, within the mobile ecosystem, games are the most visibly impacted sector in the initial stages of stringent regulatory adjustments.

Ironically, by tightening control over the industry, Chinese authorities might inadvertently create conditions conducive to major companies like Tencent and NetEase monopolizing the gaming landscape in the country. After all, Tencent is also the developer behind WeChat, an "all-in-one app" coveted by Western corporations for its versatility. However, this recent regulatory shift underscores how distinct China's mobile market is from the Western context as a whole.

This intensified crackdown could also amplify interest in other significant markets, particularly India. While China has responded swiftly with strict measures, offering limited room for negotiation, Indian authorities have demonstrated some willingness to engage with their game developers. With enterprises like Mixi eager to invest substantially in startups, the pathway—for now, at least—remains open for India to emerge as a burgeoning hub for mobile innovation.

Source: Iwan Morris, Staff Writer at PocketGamer

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