Requirements for mobile games in the Chinese market

The mobile games industry is one of the fastest growing and most popular industries in the world at the moment, but the Chinese market is characterised not only by its rapid pace of development, but also by legislation that establishes a framework for the creation and use of such intellectual property. Nevertheless, the Chinese mobile games market is competitive and attractive for developers due to the involvement of the population in this sector.

The regulator in China sets out a number of requirements that a mobile game must meet in order to be freely promoted in China. These requirements include, for example:

Availability of ISBN licence

Although the ISBN licence (or game distribution licence) was originally introduced only for online games, over time its presence has become mandatory for any type of game.

It is almost impossible for a foreign developer to obtain an ISBN licence without a Chinese publisher: the state is dominated mainly by Chinese companies and their projects, which, for the most part, get ISBN licences.

A foreign company wanting to distribute a mobile game in China can:

  1. Find a Chinese publisher who, with all the necessary documentation, can help with applying for an ISBN; or
  2. Register your own company in China, whereby you will receive a business licence and, in fact, permission to operate from the state.

However, it is worth bearing in mind that even if you choose the second option in order to do business in China, you will still have to co-operate with local specialists. For example, when registering a company, the co-founder must be a person with Chinese citizenship, and a person who will accompany the process of registering a legal entity is also needed.

Existence of copyright for the mobile game

Because the mobile game you provide for distribution in China is foreign to the local authorities, you need to confirm the so-called special copyright from the National Copyright Administration of China. The registration process takes place with the help of the Copyright Protection Centre of China, which checks the software for compliance with the necessary requirements.

Compliance with local legislation

The National Press and Publication Administration provides additional measures, including the Publisher Management Regulations, Internet Information Service Management Measures, and Network Publishing Service Management Regulations.

Provisions regarding mobile game content and requirements are contained in the Management Rules for Publishers. Restrictions include any content that infringes other people's copyrights, gives away state secrets, contradicts the PRC Constitution, and other elements affecting state interests and the interests of PRC citizens.

Authorised content, accordingly, is that which is aimed at upholding state values, patriotism, promoting national culture, and facilitating the provision of services by various public sectors.

Compliance with legislation on the protection of minors

Your mobile game should only allow the player to register under their real name, and track monthly expenses and time spent in the game.

China has an anti-addition system, a specialised programme for minors to combat addiction, which limits in-game time and also regulates the likelihood of receiving bonuses - inversely proportional to the time spent in the game.

Attention should be paid to the content of a mobile game that is subject to censorship. Such elements include political events, wars, blood, corpses, gambling and dress up games, religious and sexual overtones.

The peculiarity of censorship in games in China also lies in the need to completely remove certain elements: for example, even replacing the colour of blood with a different colour will not pass inspection. The alternative to violence and death in Chinese games is often a white flag displayed by the defeated side; cold or firearms are also replaced by more "peaceful" elements.

Thus, in case you want to distribute your mobile game in China, it should be possible to modify many of its elements in advance to comply with mobile game requirements.

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