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Entering the Chinese Market

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GDC Panel: Entering the Chinese Market

Eugene Evans of Mythic Entertainment and Monte Singman of Shanda Radiance talk

MMOs entering China really boil down to one major element which controls everything, the government. Eugene and Monte discussed different ways for games to navigate the much regulated market in China where the government can shut you down tomorrow. It was brought up that China can cut off entire IPs such as Google and Yahoo so just imagine what they could do to game companies. The great firewall of China is set up by Cisco and Websense and continues to be the hurdle which all invaders must scale. The speakers pointed out that if you give the government access, you will have less trouble.

The Chinese government will review each project on content. Even PvP content is factored into this judgment. Local police forces are one of the agencies which have to give approval for PvP content. Children under the age of eighteen are monitored so that the PvP will not cause violence in the neighborhoods. The government believes that online games are disrupting the social order. They do not approach this in a ‘big brother’ kind of way but more as a caring parent making sure players do not forget about the world outside. In light of this type of control the government passed the Beijing Accord which restricted the time players under eighteen could spend in online games. Monte Singman had said that this accord was no overly enforced and feels that it was not successful.

Despite all these restrictions MMOs are incredibly popular in China. The companies who do enter have to make friends with several organizations with in the Chinese government. The GAPP or General Administration for Press and Publication are fighting to gain control of allowing MMOs into the country. However, the Ministry of Culture, Education, Science, and even the regional governments also review games and decide on entry. There are groups in China that can navigate you through this difficult political climate to still have your game published.

Overall the seminar was helpful in painting a picture of what companies have to go through to get their games published in China. If you have a game being played their and content generated by players is deemed unfit, do not worry they will go after the players. Still it is good to work with the right people in getting games published there. With all these restrictions I am glad to see gamers in China continuing to grow and play regardless of all the regulation. Thanks again to Eugene and Monte for a very interesting session.

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