China's video game industry, the largest globally, shows signs of a strong recovery as the country approves 87 new titles, including a notable Ubisoft mobile game, amidst easing regulatory measures.
A significant boost for the gaming industry
In a significant development for the domestic market, China approved 87 new video game titles in November. This includes the local version of “The Division Resurgence,” a mobile game from the popular Tom Clancy's The Division franchise, developed by French publisher Ubisoft Entertainment and backed by Tencent Holdings. This approval marks a recovery in the domestic market following a period of regulatory easing in Beijing.
The latest approvals by the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) bring the total for the year to 873, a considerable increase from the 512 titles in 2022 and 755 in 2021. Among those approved are games from major Chinese developers like NetEase, Perfect World, Lilith Games, and HyperGryph.
The Division Resurgence: A global anticipation
Ubisoft's “The Division Resurgence,” a multiplayer third-person shooter, is set for a global release in 2024. This game represents a significant addition to the industry, especially considering the stringent Chinese regulations requiring every video game to undergo a licensing process before public release. The NPPA's delay in announcing the November approvals added a layer of uncertainty to the market.
China's gaming market: Rising against the odds
Despite economic challenges and job cuts in ByteDance's gaming sector, the gaming industry in mainland China is poised for growth. According to Niko Partners, revenue from video game software and services is expected to reach US$47.76 billion this year, up by 5.2% from 2022. This increase follows a 2.5% decline in the previous year.
Key factors driving this growth include regular game approvals, successful new game launches, and increased spending on existing titles. The total gaming population in China, encompassing PC, mobile, and console gamers, is projected to hit 710.3 million in 2023, with an average revenue per user of US$5.60.
Ubisoft's strategic moves in China
As Ubisoft navigates the challenging market, it has appointed Yang Zhihong, a veteran with nearly two decades of experience, as the new managing director for its Shanghai studio starting in 2024. While the exact release date for “The Division Resurgence” in China remains unknown, more details are expected as the project progresses. Ubisoft's partnership with Level Infinite, Tencent's overseas game publishing division, aims to bring the new Tom Clancy game to Asian markets, including the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Other notable game approvals
The NPPA's approvals include the Chinese-language mobile game “Shijiezhiwai” from NetEase, with over two million players already reserving the game. Other games licensed last month include “Jade Dynasty 2” from Beijing-based Perfect World and anime-style games “AFK Journey” and “Ex Astris” from Shanghai-based Lilith Games and HyperGryph, respectively.