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China approves 96 new video games in May, with market leaders Tencent, NetEase missing from list

China's video gaming regulator approved 96 new titles for domestic release in May, it said on Monday, just under the 95 approvals in April.

Although the titles approved this month do not include games developed by industry leaders Tencent Holdings or NetEase, at least four have investments from Tencent, which runs the world's biggest video gaming business by revenue.

Those four include Bingyuanxinghuo from Century Games and Texunjingying by Wizard Games, according to the list published by the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), the government body in charge of licensing video games in China.

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Other major companies were behind this month's new titles, including Tafengxing from Hong Kong-listed Archosaur Games and Renjing, whose developer Shanghai Magic Sword Network Technology Co is backed by Genshin Impact operator miHoYo, according to NPPA's list.

Although the latest approvals are fewer in number compared to those in the past three months, the regulator has continued to step up the pace of approvals as Chinese authorities try to restore confidence in the industry.

The first three months of the year each saw more than 100 new titles approved. As a result, a total of 524 new domestic titles have been released in the first five months of 2024 compared with 1,075 for all of last year.

In January, the regulator retracted a draft proposal it published in December that aimed to put a cap on user spending in games and ban "excessive" rewards. That proposal caused at least US$80 billion in value to be erased from Chinese video gaming stocks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and New York.

A key Chinese government official later stepped down, as the NPPA moved to withdraw that proposal, according to a South China Morning Post report, which cited people familiar with the matter.

Separately, Blizzard Entertainment's remarriage with old partner NetEase in April will see the comeback of titles like World of Warcraft, Overwatch and Hearthstone on the Chinese mainland after more than a year's absence.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2024 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2024. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.