The Chinese government has fined a gaming company 700,000 yuan ($99,000) for releasing an online game without taking prior clearance from it. The fine is 7 times the revenue the firm earned from the game. The government notice doesn’t name the company but does say that it is based in Beijing. The game for which the company has been punished has also not been named in the government notice.
China had revamped its gaming regulatory body last year, and this is the first time a company has been fined since the revamp. Under the new system, companies had to take prior approval from the government before launching any new game. According to the new regulatory framework, gaming companies can be fined between 5 to 10 times the revenue they collected from unlicensed games.
China has the world’s largest population of gamers, and earlier, the government was very lax about the proliferation of unlicensed games. After the changes in the gaming regulatory body, no new gaming licenses were issued for nine months.
The strengthening of regulations in China became necessary as concerns about copyright violations are rising across the world. Companies invest millions in R&D to produce state-of-the-art gaming experience for their users, and Chinese gaming companies used to create cheap copies or even copycat versions of these games and market them as new.
Crackdown on unlicensed games was also warranted because of the introduction of games with political themes, which is anathema to the Chinese government. For example, games showing support for Hong Kong protests or for spreading democracy US-style through the barrel of a gun. The Chinese communist government has been extremely sensitive to criticism of its policies to curb pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and keeps an eye on all media for such activities.