China could ban game over blood and violence


Hands on with the Super Nintendo Classic Edition

Has one of the internet’s hottest video games run out of lives in China?

Chinese regulators have described PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has attracted 13 million global players since its debut in March, as being too “bloody and violent.”

The game “severely deviates from our socialist core values and traditional Chinese culture,” the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association said Monday.

The association is a division of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, which censors games, movies and books in China.

Developed by South Korea’s Bluehole Studio, Battlegrounds riffs on themes similar to those of the popular books and movie series The Hunger Games.

In the video game, up to 100 players are dropped on a desert island, where they able to deploy a variety of weapons in a fight to the death.

The game has not yet been officially marketed in China, but 40% of Battlegrounds’ sales already come from the country, according to IHS Markit analyst Piers Harding-Rolls.

The country of 1.4 billion people is a major opportunity for gaming firms, with its market valued at nearly $25 billion.

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Battlegrounds is distributed to home computers via an online platform called Steam. It will also be released this year on Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30)‘s Xbox One console.

Chinese users are currently able to download the title by using Steam’s Hong Kong store.

Local media have reported in recent weeks that Chinese internet giant Tencent (TCEHY) was looking to buy licensing rights for the game in China.

Bluehole and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Harding-Rolls said that regulators could still approve an official license for Battlegrounds, but some of its more lurid content may have to be removed.

He said that other violent titles, such as Grand Theft Auto 5, can be downloaded in China.

A closely watched Communist Party newspaper publicly criticized Tencent earlier this year over its hugely popular Honour of Kings series.

The People’s Daily claimed that the game caused addiction in young people.

— Serenitie Wang contributed to this report.


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