China’s newly set-up integrity committee targets esports games in the country, banning PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite, with rumors about League of Legends and Overwatch swirling. While the news has been picked by several respected sources, the media is treading carefully still. Here’s what we know.
An Ethical Review of Chinese Video Games
China has been issuing warnings for a while now that it will not allow certain games to arrive on the market. It’s been the reason why Tencent, one of the largest owners & developers, has had to set up alternative digital marketplace based in Hong Kong to pivot its products in the west, courtesy of the WeGame platform.
The newly-established Online Ethics Review Committee is a body charged with assessing the entertainment industry and determining whether its products promote the correct values.
Broaching a debate over values has long been known to be important to the Chinese government, with the China Audio-Video Copyright Association publishing a note back in October, 2017, that the game contained too much gore effects that would have most likely disqualified it from obtaining a license in the country.
The recent assessment of the Online Ethics Committee took this a step further deciding to scrap the game altogether along with Fortnite, the award-winning and multi-million-generating flagship title by Epic Games.
The Curious Case with the Bans
What’s curios, though is that Fortnite is not a specifically violent game, as is PUBG, at least visually. While the battle royale clearly encourages contention between players, achievements are obtained by way of demonstrating personal skill with the visuals remaining just as colorful and reassuring both in victory and defeat. Hence, the decision that Fortnite is a violent or a vulgar game strike as slightly bizarre.
League of Legends, for example was said to introduce players to “inharmonious” chat rooms which saw discord both at home and between countries in the regions, with the most recent case of TNC Predator’s player using racial remarks to describe Chinese players in Dota 2. League of Legends will only undergo “corrective action” rather than face outright ban.
Interestingly, the game that actually caused the greatest polemic, Dota 2 itself, is not on the list, even though it’s far gorier and dour-looking than Riot’s fantasy MOBA.
Blizzard’s Games Take Notice
Most of Blizzard’s games have come under the pummeling of the Chinese government, with Overwatch, Diablo, World of Warcraft all being warned for promoting “inharmonious chats”, “fraudulent content”, or just pay too much time to explicit content.
The list included other competitive titles, including H1Z1 which also came under the category of banned titles outright, citing the same concerns for the violence promoted in the game.
Meanwhile, Arena of Valor, another highly-praised competitive title will have to undergo corrective action as well as re-consider how it promotes history and culture, which the government considers to be erroneous.
The decision to limit some games and downright ban others may strike as bizarre. Fortnite and PUBG have a decent following both in the country and abroad. Pushing ahead with a ban seems bizarre. And the question that still eats us is – why League of Legends but not Dota 2?