Content Restrictions and Requirements For Publishing Games In China
Beginning July 2016, all games published in China (mobile or otherwise) must go through a licensing and approval process with the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT).
Note: In older documents, today’s SAPPRFT was called the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP), as this agency was later merged with the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television to form the SAPPRFT. It is still sometimes referred to as the General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (GAPPRFT), but we will simply call the agency SAPPRFT.
At that time, the agency released a detailed list of content restrictions that remains in effect to this day, but with some additions. Game published before that time were required to resubmit and go through the approval process.
Later, in November 2019, SAPPRFT released a notice requiring online games to restrict access to games during weekdays evenings and add in-app purchase spending limits for children under 18, once again noting that the real age account verification system must be implemented in order to enforce it.
Game Startup Procedure
- Before the game starts, a screen with the required “Healthy Gaming Advice” text must be displayed:
- After this, a special page must display the game copyright owner, publisher, SAPPRFT game license number (ISBN / GRN), and other approval document numbers as appropriate.
Game Content Restrictions
Here is a broad overview of the in-game content that will cause your mobile game license application to be rejected in China.
These restrictions are all-encompassing, referring to the language, script, story, maps and scenes, character designs and models, in-game items, music and sound effects, missions and quests, instructions, and advertisements in your mobile game.
Your mobile game cannot include any content that:
- “Opposes the basic principles established by the Constitution” and is interpreted as slandering or demeaning the military, government, socialist principals, Mao Zedong Thought, or the leadership.
- “Endangers national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity” by misrepresenting Taiwan, Hong Kong, the South China Sea, and China’s established borders and political entities in real or even fictitious maps.
- Distorts historical facts about modern, historical or Imperial China, or paints its various ethnic groups in a bad light.
- Depicts real or fictitious foreign entities invading Chinese territory, embassies, waters, etc.
- Discloses state secrets and confidential information.
- Promotes fascism, glorifies war, violence, or criminal activities.
- Depicts religious activities or the supernatural, such as cults, fortune-telling, ghosts, etc., or using the banner of science to fabricate or reproduce the supernatural in real life
- Depicts obscenity or pornography, nudity, homosexuality, polygamy, adultery, or sex in any form, including sexual taboos.
- Content that promotes violence, terror and cruelty, such as torture, corpses, skeletons, blood of any color, mass destruction.
- Scenes, characters or images that are too scary.
- Content that “insults or slanders others, or infringes upon the legal rights and interests of others” and invades their private lives.
- Content that “endangers social morality or national excellent cultural traditions” such as vulgar words, destruction of cultural buildings or relics, insulting socially disadvantaged groups, promoting corrupt lifestyles and the use of power or money for personal gain, or painting historical China and Chinese culture in a bad light.
- Promoting violations of laws and crimes, particularly involving minors and criminal organizations, or playing the role of a thief or criminal.
- Promoting drug use or drug trafficking.
- Gambling or gambling equipment, providing services for game point transactions, exchange, or disguising exchange of cash and property in the form of “virtual currency”
- Encouraging minors to use tobacco or alcohol, get married, live together, or do other actions unsuitable for minors.
For a more detailed explanation and thorough list, see our translation of the official 2016 Mobile Game Content Standards.
Loot Box Restrictions
Social and Communication Elements
To the extent that your game allows players to talk with each other or post messages within the game or online, your game will need an established method to control, monitor, and moderate this content. You will need to submit your plan for dealing with reported issues and content takedowns, and you will also need to install filtering software to automatically block harmful and illegal content.
The AppInChina Advantage
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.