China cracks down on mobile games like ‘Fortnite’

By Allan Smith , CNN Written by Epic Games, the makers of the hugely popular “Fortnite” have taken their game off the Chinese mobile market following an apparent crackdown on mobile games. According to…

China cracks down on mobile games like 'Fortnite'

By Allan Smith , CNN Written by

Epic Games, the makers of the hugely popular “Fortnite” have taken their game off the Chinese mobile market following an apparent crackdown on mobile games.

According to reports, both the Chinese and American subsidiaries of Epic have followed their Taiwanese parent in withdrawing the game in China.

All of the listed companies have so far declined to comment or confirm the news to CNN, with the dismissal of “Fortnite” rumored to be connected to planned crackdowns on excessively violent and sexual games.

Global sensation

So what is driving the crackdown?

There are many theories: China’s highly selective gaming market has become a key growth area — a report released in October stated that the market would reach $91 billion by 2022 — though China Mobile and Tencent are known to have censored the game’s language in order to comply with Chinese regulations.

Others suggest that it is a pure business move; perhaps Chinese authorities may be looking to take advantage of a booming China and South Korea special relationship.

According to the market experts GamesFreak, China Mobile has moved to shut down “Battlegrounds” developer Bluehole’s popular online game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” in China. Bluehole is also behind “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” in South Korea.

Another notable game has been called back. A Twitter account attached to pro-Chinese state news agency Xinhua announced in February that it had forced video streaming service Toutiao and game studio NetEase to pull the game “H2O” — a game typically loved by teenage girls — from their apps. The popular game can reportedly earn $1 million for developers.

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A wave of recalls

Meanwhile, users of mobile gaming app “Mobile Strike” are celebrating after Apple removed the app from its App Store at the request of local security authorities.

“JiePang City” actor and former “Captain America” Tony Jaa — who is also Korean — said on Twitter that the recall was needed to prevent the game from “spreading uncontrollably”.

The Seoul-based firm that produces the app confirmed to CNN that the same Chinese security agencies that had reportedly banned “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” had demanded that “JiePang City” and a number of other Korean-made mobile games be removed from the App Store.

In China, the most popular game on WeChat, the main mobile social network in the country, is a mobile version of the “Flappy Bird” mobile game, which hit huge success in 2014.

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On January 20, Chinese gamers were worried that the Vietnam-based developer of “Flappy Bird” would not be able to pay for the game’s distribution rights, as Samsung had pulled it from app stores in China.

Similarly, the app “Monaco” — which combines online and online-offline game elements, and has proved a local hit — has also experienced sluggish sales following a key partner’s seizure of its Taiwanese office.

In response to this week’s reported disruptions to the Korean game industry, Korean game developer Hanjin Games has announced it is supporting the South Korean government’s Project RISE campaign to promote digital safety and improve interoperability across the industry.

“We have included plug-in apps with Project RISE in our products from January through March, and are committed to supporting the government’s efforts,” it says.

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