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Valorant among 45 titles granted gaming licenses in China cover image

Valorant among 45 titles granted gaming licenses in China

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Valorant, Don’t Starve, Gwent, and Pokémon Unite are set for release in China as the government approves new gaming licences.

China has approved gaming licenses for 45 imported foreign titles, seemingly ending a near 18-month crackdown on online gaming in the country. As reported by Reuters’ Josh Ye, Pokémon Unite, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game, Don’t Starve, and Valorant are among the 45 imported games that will now be able to be distributed in the country.
In 2022, just 90 foreign titles have been granted gaming licenses in China, with the last batch coming in April. When those 45 titles were approved, stocks in gaming companies surged. Since then, domestic games companies, such as Tencent, have only been given a single license. Now, some of the world’s most popular recent titles could be coming to the country.
In China, gaming licenses are mandatory for a game to be published and sold in the Chinese market. However, after public and government backlash in 2020 and 2021, gaming licenses were all but frozen. This was part of a huge crackdown on online gaming that took place in August 2021.

An end to the strict gaming laws?

China may be on the road to relaxing its strict gaming policies (Image via N509FZ)
China may be on the road to relaxing its strict gaming policies (Image via N509FZ)
China’s harsh stance against online gaming and limited gaming licenses has massively shrunk the domestic game’s industry. Chinese authorities approved gaming licenses 9,369 titles in 2017, around 2000 in 2018, before falling to just 755 in 2021. In 2022, as mentioned, just 90 titles were approved. The release of the 45 new titles may be part of a new policy of review every six months. 
However, the release comes after massive concessions in the Chinese government about their strict lockdown policies. After waves of protests, and a breakdown in public order, the authorities were forced to walk-back their zero-COVID-19 policy. China hopes that its relaxation on COVID-19 policy will also bolster its economy, as well as placate unrest. And perhaps the multi-billion-dollar global gaming industry figures into those plans.
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Michael Hassall
Michael Hassall
Editor | Twitter @hoffasaurusx
Michael is a UK-based content creator who caught the esports bug in 2010, but took eight years to figure out he should write about it. Throwing away a promising career in marketing and PR, he now specialises in MOBAs, covering League of Legends, Dota 2, and esports in general since 2019. When not glued to tournaments taking place on the other side of the globe, he spends time nurturing an unhealthy addiction to MMOs and gacha games.