The National Radio and Television Administration of China issued a notice on April 12, 2022 (published on April 15), titled “Strengthening the management of game live broadcasting on online audio-visual platforms”. The notice clarifies that game live streaming platforms, short video platforms and other types of audio-visual platforms are prohibited from broadcasting video games without obtaining a license (ISBN).
The review contained 6 points
- It is strictly forbidden for any media platform to publish content for unapproved online games: including game live streaming platforms, short video platforms, TV series, variety shows, etc. It is illegal to stream it live or record it and then publish it.
- Improve the management of live game content: all live content platforms, especially game platforms in terms of content, advertising and interaction settings, should establish and improve game live broadcast program information, including the management of the publication, comments and emergency interventions. Improve program monitoring and public opinion monitoring systems to create a healthy online environment.
- Increase guidance for streamers to avoid negative behavior: platforms should guide streamers to have more civilized manners, rational expressions and rational spending to create a healthy online environment, abandon vulgar language and other undesirable things like worshiping money and fan circles.
- It is strictly forbidden to use online broadcasting platforms to give voice to people who break the law: online platforms must strongly regulate and control the selection of guests and streamers, insist on political correctness, good character, artistic level, use social evaluation as the norm. Eliminate those who have an incorrect political position, who violate laws and regulations or who violate public order.
- Urge online live-streaming platforms to implement youth protections for minors:the platforms must implement measures to fight against addictions by ensuring that the “youth mode” has concrete effects. Real-name identification requirements should be implemented to limit the time and expense of minors.
- Implement classification reporting systems:Information on the broadcast of live matches must be submitted to the administrative department of radio and television. Online media platforms (including for domestic and foreign individuals or organization accounts) broadcasting gaming content or competitions overseas must obtain approval before activities can be conducted.
Niko’s regulatory monitoring shows that this policy dates back to 2016 but has not been enforced since then. Elden Ring has been a hit on Chinese game live streaming platforms, reaching 17.1 million cumulative daily average viewers based on data from Niko’s China Games Streaming Tracker, although it has no ISBN. If enforced, the policy will prevent games without an ISBN, such as Elden Ring, from being streamed on live game streaming platforms.
Niko Partners notes that games have been banned on live streaming platforms in the past, usually in the form of an announcement from the Ministry of Culture (MOC). The MOC has announced lists of games banned from licensing, selling or broadcasting in China for political reasons, and these games have been removed from game live streaming platforms entirely before. Nearly 100 games, including titles such as Grand Theft Auto V, The Witcher 3, and Plague Inc, have been designated by the MoC as banned games and are not allowed on live game streaming sites.
Stricter enforcement of existing policies and a crackdown on loopholes within China’s gaming industry have been underway in recent months, and this announcement from the NRTA is aimed at enforcing past regulations.