Source: Tomas Roggero
The battle for control of the streaming ecosystem continues in the West, but when it comes to China, the government is perfectly in control, as the last report of Niko Partners proves it. A notice, released by the National Administration of Chinese Radio and Television on April 12, 2022, states that you cannot stream video games without a government license (ISBN) now.
The edict actually includes six new decrees, issued to citizens by the aforementioned body, and aimed at cracking down on what the Chinese government sees as the harmful effect of streaming games. Top of the list, and perhaps the most Orwellian of them all, is this, which limits the titles that can be streamed even when the creators have their license.
“It is strictly forbidden for any media platform to publish content for online games that are not approved: 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. We’ll see what gets approved later, as it’s not as clear cut as the rules suggest, but it’s a far cry from Twitch’s responsive way of handling new content.
The following two rules are roughly similar:
- “Increase content management of game live streaming”; and
- “Increase guidance for streamers to avoid negative behavior.”
This includes advice such as “platforms should guide streamers to have more civilized manners, have rational expressions and spend rationally to create a healthy online environment, abandon vulgar language and other undesirable things. like worshiping money and fan circles”.
Things get a bit more serious from there, with the rules stating that no streamer is allowed to give an online platform to anyone who breaks the law. Again, the language used has a hint of 1984 about it, with the body text stating that “online platforms must heavily regulate and control guest and streamer selection, insist on political correctness, good morality…”. It is also aimed at creators and asks them to “weed out those with an incorrect political position”.
It’s also interesting at this point that China’s laws indicate that they seek to promote good morals, while some of the recent steaming rules seem to come from a place of intolerance. Conservative parts of the ruling party recently asked streamers remove “effeminate behavior” lest it negatively impact society, suggesting that the rules are designed to create a specific view of good character.
The last two rules are more aimed at youth protection – as it is understood in China, at least — with “Urge online live-streaming platforms to implement youth protections for minors: Platforms must implement addictions mechanisms by ensuring that “youth mode” has concrete effects” as the fifth rule. This is designed to work in tandem with the rules relating to minors and their playing time, we talked about before.
The latest new rule states that “Live game broadcast information must be submitted to the Radio and Television Administration Department. 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,” which means streamers will be regulated the same as television.
As Niko Partners pointed out, many of these rules have been around for some time, but are not enforced. The recent streaming hit Elden Ring did well in China without having an ISBN, although other titles like GTA5 remain banned. Niko Partners also notes that “Stricter enforcement of existing policies and a crackdown on loopholes within China’s gaming industry have been underway in recent months, and this NRTA announcement is aimed at enforcing past regulations”, that is, the creators of this part of the world. may soon find that stricter compliance is required if they wish to remain in China.