Publishing games in China has always been an interesting dark art, but now the Chinese government wants to regulate it in the hopes that it might make things simpler. Published in the People's Daily, the communist party of China's mouth piece has come out with new regulations to standardise the application process for video game publishing.
Game developers and companies could always freely publish games in China for Android, iOS, and the web. All they had to do is make a game and upload it to the aforementioned platforms. However, to get a game published and sold in stores in China, like with officially released PC games, for instance, or to be listed on an internet cafe, game companies have to do much more.
Games that can be accessed by the masses require a stringent approval process before they could be published and distributed in China (sans mobile for now). The approval process was basically an unknown. The games are looked at from every angle to make sure they're fit for China. If approved, they get approved. If they're rejected, there's no reason or explanation given.
Also, to publish, one needs to submit the appropriate level of details and information about the product, something that actually varies from location to location. Now, these will be standardised.
The report listed four items, the first being a copyright application. Applicants need to prove that they have the authority to use and publish the content they are pitching. The second is that written application materials are required to be submitted in the form of a binder. Digital materials also must be accessible through normal means (no DRM?). And finally, internet-related materials must have either a downloadable client or a server where all functions and features of a game are accessible.
The new regulations, which will go into effect in June, will supposedly make it easier for both local and foreign game makers. The GAPPFRT supposedly will audit materials and return applicants info on whether they need to supply more information within five working days. They also created a nifty website where applicants can download forms and find out more!
One can see this as a good step, with China protecting the copyrights of game makers and making it easier for regular folks to publish their work. On the other, more cynical side, this looks like it will be terrible. Game makers looking for approval will need to submit a lot of information, including access to full games prior to actual publication. There's no guarantee that someone down the bureaucratic line won't leak information or steal secrets. One can only hope that this works out for the best.