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China grants over 100 video game licences as crackdown wanes
China grants over 100 video game licences as crackdown wanes
by AFP Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Jan 26, 2024

China has granted more than 100 new video game licences in January, regulators said Friday, the highest number of monthly approvals since Beijing lifted a freeze imposed during a sweeping state crackdown on the sector.

The world's second largest economy is also one of its biggest markets for video games, worth some $42.2 billion, according to official figures.

Beijing moved against the sector in 2021 as part of a sprawling crackdown on Big Tech, placing a strict cap on the amount of time children could spend playing online.

But an end to a freeze in gaming licences in 2022 raised hopes that the worst might be over.

In January, 115 video games were given the green light, the National Press and Publication Administration said Friday -- the second-highest number since July 2022, when 135 licences were issued.

But the sector is still reeling from a law proposed in December aimed at limiting online game purchases and preventing addictive behaviour that wiped tens of billions of dollars from the industry.

The text proposed by the authorities is this month no longer accessible on the regulator's website -- suggesting it may have been dropped.

But the sector remains under pressure.

Tencent-owned Riot Games -- the publisher of "League of Legends" -- announced Monday the elimination of 530 jobs worldwide, or 11 percent of its workforce.

And ByteDance -- which owns TikTok -- is in talks with buyers to sell its gaming arm as it seeks to shed once-promising assets in the highly competitive sector.

Since 2021, children under 18 years old have only been allowed to play online between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the school term.

Gamers are required to use their ID cards when registering to ensure minors do not lie about their age.

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