An attendee at Tencent Grand Culture & Creative 2019, which was held in Chengdu, Sichuan province, and showcased Tencent's popular video games, Jan 17, 2019. (Photo: IC)
On Tuesday the Chinese government released a third batch of 93 approved video games after the certification process resumed, but major industry players Tencent and NetEase have yet to be approved.
Since authorities resumed game approvals last December, a total of 257 video games have received their publication numbers. Over 90 percent of these are mobile games, according to news website wallstreetcn.com.
Tencent and NetEase were absent from approval lists for the third time.
Feng Shixin, deputy director of the copyright bureau of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the authorities need some time for the review process due to a large number of applications at a conference on Dec 21, several days before the end of a nine-month approval freeze.
In August 2018 authorities said they will further regulate the total number of online games, and take measures to limit the time spent by minors on games.
A total of 19,880 games got their licenses from 2009-2018, of which 9,368 were in 2017 alone, according to analysis from Sinolink Securities. Among them, 38 percent were chess and card games, which are now under regulators' focus for rectification.
It is estimated 5,000 publication numbers each year can meet the basic needs of the market, and the current pace of approval is unable to keep up with demand.
That is not the only problem the market faces, the Sinolink analysis claimed. The almost exhausted mobile games dividends brought from client-side games, loss of interest from players and shortened life cycle of popular games all worry the industry.
Therefore, it is difficult to forecast significant market growth rate in 2019, the analysis said, and large game producers may still gain more market share since they have stronger anti-risk protections, a more thorough understanding of regulation and abundant game products.
The actual sales revenue of the country's mobile games market saw 15.4 percent growth, to 133.96 billion yuan ($19.82 billion) in 2018, down over 60 percent in growth rate compared with a year earlier according to a recent report by Gamma Data.