China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

December 16, 2009 -

The Chinese government appears to be expanding its control over the games industry, this time setting its sites on social games and networks, according to a guest article on TechCrunch.

When the government gets involved and censors certain content, commenters refer to the game as being "harmonized," as happened with Mafia games during the Summer. But apparently social games are taking a closer look at actions and changing language in their games in an attempt to stay a step ahead of the Chinese censors. For example, players of the popular Happy Farm now pick their neighbors crops, not steal them:

Five Minutes, the developer of the smash hit Happy Farm (the first SNS farm game), confirmed that the terms had been voluntarily changed in an interview with BloggerInsight. This comes as the government is "considering specific social gaming laws and regulations, to be enacted as early as next year ... to end the chaotic market conditions," according to ChinaNews, which scooped the story on Wednesday last week.

The article says that the government has gone so far as to spread doctored news accounts to damage the reputation of popular social games like Happy Farm.

And the threat of regulation is prompting some developers to be proactive to stay ahead of the government:

Although the SNS landscape is splintered, the government is determined to maintain control. There is no Facebook, no single dominant social network for all of China: the top 3 are Qzone, Kaixin001, and RenRen (see chart).  When it comes to games, Qzone and Kaixin001 develop everything in-house with games inspired from Facebook, while Renren has a mostly open API so it can tap into outside developers to copy games for them. All have keyword lists and teams responsible for the instant removal of “objectionable” content.

Platforms have borne the responsibility for game regulation until now, but developers may soon become practiced in self-censorship too. The new regulations will likely be similar to those for MMORPGs: a list of “do’s and don’ts” for Chinese social games, according to an industry insider. This could include age ratings or a requirement that social games be suitable for players of all ages.

The article concludes with a warning to Western game developers hoping to tap into the Chines market:

The China market is seductive, but outside game companies should proceed with caution. Foreign developers would be wise to cultivate political ties and partner with or build a local studio, as Popcap Games did. Also, be sure your games promote "harmonious social values" -- Mafia Wars need not apply.

Comments

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

Why when I hear them wanting to promote "Harmonious social games" do I hear them wanting games that promote blind patriotism?

-Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person's fear of their own freedom-

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

China is a lost cause, and a model of inspiration for Michael Atkinson.

As for China government asking for occidental developers to get more close to China´s side, I would say: "Go to hell, if you don´t like my games then make your own damn games".

With so many restrictions of what to do for that market, China is surely NOT the best market.

How long more are gonna that people to take crap from their government?

My DeviantArt Page (aka DeviantCensorship): http://www.darkknightstrikes.deviantart.com

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

While I do agree that developers and publishers should give up on China indefinately, China isn't an inspiration ot JUST Atkinson. Politicians all over the world, for all the shiny language they use, would LOVE to have what the chinese government has, just they can't go for it as there would be hell to pay, though it does feel like they are trying.

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

it's not even just managing to make a game that fits the requirements that's hard. Every once in a while they make huge sweeping changes, and everybody gets to scramble to meet the new requirements.

Re: China's Latest Task: Harmonizing Social Games

Part of me is terribly amused but the outrage at China's behavior, since when you start getting into coin-op games, but the US and UK behave like this.  Complete with random sweeping changes.

In the UK there is basicly a board with no  guidelines or rules, thus 'what will get allowed' documents people people produce are little more then descriptions of the board member and what they happen to like.

In the US it is done at a state leve, with some states having just a single person deicde what is acceptable and what is not.  NJ is like that, which explains why anythign OTHER then full blown gambling machines tend to be about a decade behidn (or simply unavailable).

 
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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
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MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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