China grants gaming license to NetEase, 1st since crackdown

HONG KONG — China’s second largest gaming firm NetEase has received its first online game license in over a year in a possible sign Beijing is gradually easing a crackdown on the industry.

The National Press and Publication Administration, which issues licenses for video games, on Tuesday published a list of approvals for 73 games, including a mobile game by NetEase called “All-Star Street Ball Party.”

In August 2021, regulators stopped issuing gaming licenses as they tightened restrictions on the tech industry. They resumed approvals in April. Tencent, the country’s biggest gaming company, has not gotten any games approved since then.

However, Nanjing Wangdian Technology, a subsidiary of Tencent, got a license for a health-education mobile game called “Defense of Health.” Tencent first unveiled plans to launch this game in May 2021. But such educational games typically are less lucrative than commercial mobile games.

In cracking down on the technology industry, Beijing implemented a raft of new regulations for online education, e-commerce, online gaming and financial technology.

Online gaming time for minors was limited to just 3 hours a week on most weeks. Officials also said they would supervise and inspect online games more often to ensure that they comply with regulations.

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