Last week, the notion was put forth that China’s freeze on approving new games might be due to the country taking a longer look at loot boxes and monetization in general. As it turns out, the issue wasn’t with money but with time, making the old adage relevant.
Chinese gaming market gurus Niko Partners has a dissection of a recent statement from the Chinese Ministry of Education, which boils down to restrictions being placed on gaming for children under the age of 18 due to a belief that heavy use of gaming screens is leading to an increase in myopia, or near-sightedness. Some measures are already in place, such as one- to two-hour limits on daily gaming, but an additional provision will “limit the number of new online games that are approved for distribution.”
According to Niko, the exact nature of such restrictions has yet to be fully spelled out, and likely won’t until the end of September, at the earliest. They note that 8,561 games were approved in China in 2017, with an astounding 8,202 (95.8%) of them, along with 1,866 of 1,931 (96.6%) approved in Q1 of 2018, being mobile games. Many of those (37% in 2017, 47.8% in Q1 2018) were poker or mah-jong games, which Niko believes might mean that most of the restrictions could be based around slowing down the torrent of cheap knock-off mobile games, with little effect on the mainstream AAA PC and console market.