Sex sells. It's a cheap and simple ploy that video game marketers have used for years. The Chinese game industry is no different. In recent years, famous Japanese adult film stars have been tapped to represent and market games to consumers, but now, one of the country's biggest newspapers has come out against sex in the video game industry in China.
Last week, People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the country's communist party, published an online editorial calling for the end of risqué marketing. Describing the practice of using sex to increase profits as vulgar, the newspaper delved a bit into the history of explicit video game marketing in China. Here's a recap:
According to People's Daily, in 2009, the government aimed to clean up sex in the video gaming industry. In July of that year, the Ministry of Culture started to crackdown on overtly sexual websites and video games that used explicit materials for marketing. In August 2009, the then General Administration of Press and Publication in China released information that it had investigated a total of 71 game companies as well as issued citations to various other companies for having material that was deemed too "vulgar."
Despite the supposed cleanse that started in 2009, in 2010 a new online game based on The Journey to the West was marketed with one of China's earliest "models" Yan Fengjiao. Yan would then create something called "naked bear gate" where she would appear in marketing materials nude and only covered up by a stuffed bear.
Keep in mind, that these examples and efforts were all geared towards sexually explicit marketing online. The People's Daily article doesn't cover the move against booth companions that China would eventually push forth, limiting the amount skin booth companions can show at China's premier gaming conventions. While the attached link refers to the industry policing itself, that isn't the whole case. In 2011, the Ministry of Culture had released new regulations on marketing materials related to video games.
As of now, it is unclear if there will be any new regulations regarding video game advertising in China. Famous Japanese adult video stars have a major presence in China and are still being used as spokespeople for video games. Usually, when People's Daily puts out an editorial, it represents the voice and views of the communist party.
This call to stop sexually explicit advertisements in games and related material comes at a time when China seems to be "cleaning up" its image. Only last week the public security forces in China raided the city of Dongguan, an infamous adult playground. People's Daily has written that it will continue to focus on the problems of sex in the Chinese video gaming industry.
游戏业扫黄在行动 对游戏色情营销坚决说"不" [People's Daily]