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Publishing an iOS or Android mobile game in China is not as simple as uploading it to the Apple App Store or Google Play and checking a couple of boxes.
For one, Google Play is not available in China. In its place is an ecosystem of 400+ android app stores, each with their own submission process.
And before your game can be published, it must receive a unique “game license” after undergoing a strict government approval process that can seem daunting to outsiders (which is why companies like ours exist to make it easy).
By law, all games published in China must be so licensed – from PC games to mobile games, to HTML5 games to Mini-games inside other apps (like WeChat and Douyin). However, in practice, the government currently seems to focus primarily on games that are paid and/or draw revenue through in-app purchases.
But we think the rewards are worth it to gain access to this massive $30+ billion market of 640+ million hungry gamers. This article is a brief overview of how you can tap into it:
Basic Business Requirements:
Note: If you partner with AppInChina, we can give you a much better profit-sharing arrangement than most Chinese publishing partners. Contact us to find out how.
Link: ICP License Details
Game Content Requirements & Restrictions
In order to accept revenue, your game must be approved by the NPPA, which has a detailed list of content restrictions your game must meet to be approved. Overseas game developers and publishers often end up making a number of changes to their games to meet the Chinese censors’ approval.
In 2019, a few additional clarifications were given along with the new submission process:
Working Within The Great Firewall of China. Popular cloud services, online libraries, and dependencies such as AWS, Google Play Services, and others are blocked in China. For your game to function properly, you will need to utilize services that work within China. We help our clients identify alternative solutions so they can minimize the amount of conversion work they have to do, and keep their game going as fast as possible.
Even if the content passes the censors, you cannot publish your game as-is. Some localization for the Chinese market will be required:
Third-Party Android App Stores
Apple App Store In China
Mobile Game Revenue Share Models In China
Games that have in-app purchases are required to go through the NPPA approval process for the gaming license. Games that make money from ad revenue only are in a bit of a gray area. Currently, the regulations are unclear as to whether they must go through this approval process or not.
Submission to NPPA
You will need to prepare the following items to submit with your game to the NPPA for licensing approval:
Approval times for game submissions is officially 80 days from date of submission. However, depending on the current backlog and review process, you can generally plan on:
The more complicated the game, the longer the approval process may be. Also be sure to allow time for multiple potential rounds of feedback, adjustment and re-review. Note that the NPPA does not have a channel for expedited processing.
Once your game is approved, you will be issued a Game Registration Number (GRN) which is an ISBN. This is proof that your game has been approved for distribution in China, and you will need to submit it to both the Chinese Apple App Store and any Chinese Android app stores where you want to publish your game.
You will need to individually submit your game to each app store, along with the required information.
Our general advice is to publish to at least the top 10 Android app stores in the country, and of course the Chinese Apple App Store for your iOS version. Better advice is to also figure in carefully at where your game fits into the top game app stores in the country, because they each have their own focus and.
Note that, in the past, there was a loophole that the Apple App Store did not appear to be verifying ISBN or SCC numbers. However, as of February 24, 2020, the Apple App Store has required all games have a valid game registration approval number (GRN / ISBN), with a deadline of July 31, 2020. To date, Apple does not appear to be verifying SCC licenses.
Publishing your mobile game in China is impossible without a Chinese partner. AppInChina is the most trusted app and game publisher in the Chinese app market today, and we do things a little differently.
Our generous revenue-sharing models give you more money and flexibility, and are within reach for even small and mid-tier mobile games. If your game is gaining a strong following in your home country, it will likely reap even greater rewards on the Chinese market.
Contact our English-speaking team today and let us make this difficult process easy for you.
Send us a message with your questions. We'll put together a custom plan tailored to your needs.Get Started Now