Yesterday (June 22nd, 2010) the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China released new regulations on online games, which will come into effect on Aug 1st, 2010. All online and social games will be subject to stricter scrutiny going forward.
The most sweeping change is the requirement of real names and valid ID, which would completely change the anonymous nature of the Chinese internet. The vast majority of gamers and BBS and QQ users use nicknames rather than real names. Networks, portals, and game developers are all likely to balk unless the policy is vigorously enforced.
The other key change is that online platforms are prohibited from selling virtual currency to minors (under 18). Tencent, the Chinese internet giant that caters to teens, had its stock fall about 5% in Hong Kong upon the news, despite issuing a statement that it would not be affected.
New regulations for online and social games have been in the making for some time. The announcement by the Ministry of Culture establishes their imminent arrival.
Five Key Points
(The full regulation (in Chinese) is available on Sina Tech)
- All online game operators, including SNS companies, should have no less than 10 million RMB of registered capital.
- Online games developed by foreign companies are subject to special regulation and approval by the Ministry of Culture. See application requirements below.
- Any change of the game content should be reported to MCPRC for further review.
- The new regulations also require users to register with real names and valid ID. Note: All Chinese have a Resident Identity Card (居民身份证) that could be used, similar to South Korea's real name system. Shanda's beta social gaming platform, "Candy" (糖果), already requires this for registration.
- Online platforms are prohibited from selling virtual currency to minors (under 18).
Application Requirements (for foreign game developers)
- (A) Application forms
- (B) Game instructions
- (C) Agreement of trade and operation (both in Chinese and the original language) and a copy of the copyright certificates or authorizations for the game
- (D) A copy of “internet operation license” and “business license”
- (E) Other documents required for a review of the content
By Kai Lukoff and Pan Xie
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