Fortnite approved for release in China

By Campos Santiago Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/27 21:53:40

US online game arrives in world’s largest market

Players try out newly released mobile games at a gaming show in Shanghai. File photo: VCG

Epic Games' Fortnite, one of the world's best-grossing games at the moment, has been approved by China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism, opening the nation's vast market to the popular American game.

Fortnite is free to play, but it offers in-game purchases to players. The game earned a record $296 million during April, according to research firm Superdata. The game was long marked for release in China, where other games of the so-called Battle Royale genre, such as South Korean-made Playerunknown's Battleground (PUBG), are also very popular.

Epic Games is owned in part by Chinese gaming giant Tencent, which has held 40 percent of its stock since 2012. Tencent, one of the largest gaming companies in the world, announced on April 23 that it had reached an agreement with Epic to bring the game to China as its exclusive distributor. Tencent plans to invest 100 million yuan ($15.6 million) in marketing the game in China.

"Fortnite is quite similar to PUBG, but it has a very distinct graphical style and some new features. If it's free to play in my mobile phone I will certainly try it out," a 20-something Beijing gamer told the Global Times.

The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of the US Congress on May 17 published a report on the Chinese digital game sector, in which it alleged barriers to the entry of US games to the Chinese market.

Experts said that Chinese regulations on cultural products do not mean the market is closed to foreign companies.

"It's not correct to say that the Chinese gaming market is closed to foreign companies," David Gao, CEO of Chinese think tank Entbrains, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Foreign games can enter China if they go through the legal review process. Plenty of Japanese, South Korean and US games have done so and are thus being sold in China," said Gao.

The regulatory framework governing the videogame market has been rapidly evolving in recent years. Since 2016, all internet cultural products in China, including online games and their components, must undergo legal review by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the State Administration of Radio and Television before operating in China.

Analysts said it is necessary for foreign game developers to comply with Chinese values, which includes toning down expressions of violence and other elements considered harmful, as most users in China are under-aged.

China's gaming market is the world's largest, with 583 million users and revenues of 203.6 billion yuan ($31.9 billion) in 2017, according to a report by China's Game Publishers Association Publications Committee.

China has surpassed other mature markets such as the US, Europe and Japan and is increasingly the focus of attention of the worldwide gaming market.

"It's clear that China cannot be ignored by those in the West any longer as there is a huge opportunity," wrote Daniel Ahmad of gaming research firm Niko Partners in a report.

Last year, 490 foreign videogames were released in China, amounting to 5 percent of a total of 9,800 games. US companies also operate game sale platforms in China. Apple Inc's App Store sells games for its mobile devices, and Valve Co sells games for personal computers through its world leading platform Steam.

The Chinese gaming market, however, has grown to be highly competitive.

"Chinese games have achieved very high quality, so unlike movies or music, foreign games have no inherent advantage in quality or prestige," said Gao.


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