China has ended a nine-month freeze on the release of video games implemented whist the country's censors were being reorganised. In March China decided to replace the government censors with a new organisation answering to the ruling Communist Party's
propaganda department. It is widely feared that the new organisation will be even more censorial than the previous version..
The new censor has just passed its first batch of 80 titles, the majority of which are for mobile phones.
gaming executives told the newspaper they expect it'll take officials months to clear the more than 5,000 games that need approval -- and that censorship of the games would see a significant increase.
China's game censor has stopped receiving new applications for commercial video game licences, as it hasn't yet cleared a backlog of thousands of titles from a nine-month suspension that
slowed growth in the world's largest games market last year.
An executive at one of China's largest listed games companies said central officials had not accepted new applications since September, but the licensing process was being altered to
make it more efficient. There is still a huge backlog to clear, the executive said.
Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at consultancy Niko Partners, estimates regulators need six months to clear about 5,000 waiting titles.
There were supposed to be two big announcements this week regarding censorship. The first announcement was supposed to come from Valve regarding the recent ban-spree of anime games on Steam. That announcement has been postponed until further notice.
The second big announcement was relating to Sony's U.K., division that was supposed to address the current censorship policies for the PS4 that was handed down by Sony Interactive Entertainment of America's office. Well, that
announcement has been delayed because the meeting for that announcement has been delayed.
Earlier this month, the Chinese government moved forward with its new Online Ethics Review Committee, a government censor that exists solely to review online games and determine whether or not they are acceptable according to Chinese government
The creation of the new censor was in response to government concerns that Chinese citizens were playing online games that weren't being directly regulated by China. The censor was tasked with considering twenty online games in its first round
As a result two major video games, Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds , have been banned from in China altogether. Both games were big fixtures of the online multiplayer communities in China, but may not be
permitted to return since they have not been designated as needing corrective action but rather appear to have been banned outright.
According to online reports , those reviews have found both Fortnite and PUBG to be in direct violation of the new
online ethical rules. According to reports, these two titles were both banned for their gratuitous depictions of blood and gore.
Other titles, like League of Legends , Overwatch , and Diablo were noted as needing corrective
action but are not actually banned as of yet.
Video game developer Ubisoft recently made the censorship news by deciding that their Rainbow Six Siege , a shooter in an environmental setting, will be unified into a single worldwide version. This meant that the game would have to be heavily
censored to the standards of the lowest common denominator, China.
This caused a little bit of stink amongst fans, so Ubisoft announced a U turn for the China friendly censorship policy.
Now it seems that Unbsoft is still keen on a heavily
censored version that can be played in China, but this time the company is changing tack on its reasoning. Ubisoft are now reporting that parents and consumer groups are complaining that the game has too many references to sex, many violent scenes, and
allusions to gambling . It adds that parents say these issues are troubling in a game intended for teenagers.
'After listening to criticism', the company decided to make some changes to the game. It will remove some of the sexual references and
violent content, and make the loot boxes easier to come by. Ubisoft is hoping the changes will be enough to satisfy the critics and make the customers happy as well. (Especially those in China).
Online games distributor Steam recently relaxed is previous prohibitions on adult gaming but it still draws the line at games it considers illegal.
Now, according to some developers, Valve, the company behind Steam, is going after games that feature
themes of child exploitation, which it seems to define, at least in part, as games with sex scenes or nudity where the characters are in high school.
Over the past few weeks, the company has removed the store pages of several visual novels,
including cross-dressing yaoi romance Cross Love , catholic school adult visual novel Hello Goodbye , a story about the love between siblings Imolicious , and cat girl game MaoMao Discovery Team . The developers of these games
all claim to have received similar emails stating that their games could not be released on Steam.
There are a common threads that link the games in question: 1) Cross Love, Hello Goodbye, and Imolicious feature school settings, and 2) all four of
the aforementioned games contain adult elements and centre around anime-styled characters who appear young -- in some cases uncomfortably so.
Sony president Atsushi Morita has made the first official comments about his company's new found enthusiasm for video game censorship. Posted on Japanese website Ebitsu.net, but without official translation, he purportedly told attendees at a Japan
Studio event that expression restrictions [have been] adjusted to the global standards. He apparently concluded:
Considering the balance between freedom of expression and safety to children, I think that it is a difficult
One video game series thats been affected by Sony's censorship is Senran Kagura . The producer of the latest game, Kenichiro Takaki commented that the next title in the series is going to take time as it deals
with these new regulations. He said:
We have to make games in a way that they aren't misunderstood. Certain things are harder than they've ever been before. Given that, I think [the game] is going to take some time.
Kingdom Hearts 3 is an upcoming video game that features Winnie the Pooh.
Now China's president Xi Jinping has taken offence at his gait and pot belly being likened to Pooh bear so Chinese censors have to spend hours ensuring that images of the
bear are airbrushed out of Chinese life.
A Chinese website sharing images of the upcoming game revealed the game's interesting form of censorship. The iconic Winnie the Pooh is censored out with a gigantic white light.
In order to prepare Rainbow 6 Siege for expansion into China, Ubisoft announced that it will be making some global censor cuts to the game's visuals to remove gore and references to sex and gambling.
In a blog post, Ubisoft explained:
A Single, Global Version
We want to explain why these changes are coming to the global version of the game, as opposed to branching and maintaining two parallel builds. We want to streamline our production time
to increase efficiency
By maintaining a single build, we are able to reduce the duplication of work on the development side. This will allow us to be more agile as a development team, and address issues more quickly.
Ubisoft provided examples of their censorship:
Icons featuring knives become fists
Icons featuring skulls are replaced
Skulls in artwork are fleshed out into faces
Images of slot machines are removed
Blood spatters are removed from a Chinese landscape painting
Earlier this month, Ubisoft Montreal informed the Rainbow Six Siege community that all versions of the competitive first-person shooter would be censored to comply with Chinese regulations .
The community, in turn, informed Ubisoft Montreal that
it was extremely upset by that decision.
Now, developers say they're changing course by reverting all aesthetic changes made to the game. Ubisoft Montreal said:
We have been following the conversation with our
community closely over the past couple of weeks, alongside regular discussions with our internal Ubisoft team, and we want to ensure that the experience for all our players, especially those that have been with us from the beginning, remains as true to
the original artistic intent as possible.
The next update, referred to as Year Three Season Four, will see the majority of these changes returned to their original look. The Moroccan-themed expansion will also feature three new
characters and a new map. It's expected to launch in early December on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One .
Koei Tecmo is the latest publisher to fall foul Sony's new found censorship. A product page for the newly announced Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet reveals that two items will be removed from the PlayStation 4 version of the game, despite them
being present in the Nintendo Switch edition.
Both the Gold Fan and Softening Gel have been cut out of the PS4 release. The golf fan allows players to blow the skirts of characters, with the objective being to turn them inside out so you can get a
glimpse of their underwear. Meanwhile, the gel softens the recipient's breasts, making them more springy .
However, both of these items were included in the previous PS4 and PS Vita variants of the game, so it's clear that this is a new directive
from the PlayStation maker.
Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal was recently delayed on the PlayStation 4 as Sony demanded that publisher XSEED remove a mode which effectively allows you to fondle its cast of indeterminate aged virtual characters against their will.
speculation that Sony's clamping down on heavily sexualised content, especially after it refused release of bizzarro dating game Super Seducer , but many assumed that this would be limited to Western territories. However, comparison screenshots of
a new Japanese visual novel which released this week in the East reveal it may be a company-wide policy. The pictures, compared to the Nintendo Switch and PC, show use of heavy censorship to obscure sexual imagery on the PS4 only. The censorship was not
present in the PS Vita version, which launched a year ago.
There's also chatter that the PlayStation maker has requested jiggle physics be removed from the PS4 version of Warriors Orochi 4 , as they're present in the Nintendo Switch release
but conspicuously absent from the Sony SKU. This adds evidence to the notion that Sony ia shutting down this kind of content.
nichegamer.com reports that the Japanese developer light recently held a live
broadcast where they confirmed Sony's new and aggressive policy against sexual themes in seemingly only Japanese-made games is actually preventing them from releasing their latest visual novel. The game, Silverio Trinity , is their latest visual
novel opus -- and it has sexual themes in it. Developer light noted that Sony is getting strict with their approval process, especially regarding sexual themes.
The developer noted they were hoping to release the game for PlayStation 4 soon after
New Year's as development on the game is complete, however, Sony has been reluctant to approve the game. Furthermore, Sony is confusingly asking Japanese developers to plead their approval only in English, making the process even more difficult for
developers whose staff only speak or write in Japanese. The developer noted if they were to release the game for Windows PC (via Steam) they could release it next week.
Steam isn't officially available in China, but it's not officially blocked either. But this inbetween state still gives the censors unofficial power to ensure that Steam does not allow adult games to be sold in China.
Steam only recently stopped
censoring adult games in the rest of the world but the change of policy will not apply to China.
As part of the policy shift, steam added two more content filtering options for users: A general Mature Content filter and an Adult Only filter. But
China doesn't have the latter option, which means that they don't have access to these games at all.
Chinese media speculated that Steam is restricting adult titles from Chinese gamers to avoid getting officially blocked in the country. China's
government is tightening its grip on the gaming industry and repeatedly clamps down on online content that they deem inappropriate, so Steam could be trying to keep a delicate balance: Not officially blocked, but not officially banned, either.