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Kliuless? #9: China's Gaming Cold War Continues

Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.

Kliuless? Gaming Industry ICYMI #9

Hi, my name is Kenny Liu, and I work in Revenue Strategy at Riot Games. Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.

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China's Gaming Cold War Continues

  • WSJ: China’s Pause on Videogame Approvals Expected to Drag Into Next Year
    • "Two executives said the government may borrow from its regulation of the movie industry and impose an annual quota on the number of foreign-made games.
    • Before the shuffle, a review committee under the Ministry of Culture had become nitpicky about foreign games, said the former game-company executive. While that committee used to focus its objections on violence, nudity or political issues, it started requiring tweaks on minor issues, including changing visual effects such as 'boom' and 'You win!' into simplified Chinese, the executive said, prompting his company to retack.
    • 'We stopped pushing as many Western games in the last year or so,' he said. 'Once you sense something like this, you can’t fight it.'"
  • Bloomberg: China Halts Special Approval Process for New Games
    • "China’s regulators have ended the issuance of game licenses through a stopgap approval process[,] closing the last known official path for making money from new titles in the world’s biggest gaming market"
    • "China gamers have also flocked to Steam, an online platform where people can play unlicensed titles. The site [...] has so far escaped the government crackdown. Its games are now available via overseas servers, but it’s unclear if that will continue once Steam begins using local servers as the China government requires.
      • 'It’s interesting how long Steam overseas can remain unblocked, since people are noticing how Chinese gamers are flooding the platform to download games,' said Benjamin Wu, a Shanghai-based analyst at Pacific Epoch. 'It might only be a matter of time that they get blocked.'"
      • Related: Steam reaches 90m monthly active users
  • Tencent's Honor of Kings (HoK) begins rolling out mandatory real ID verification with police (Chinese or Google translated)
    • Game accounts that do not pass the check will be forbidden from logging in
    • Each real ID can have a maximum of one game account on WeChat and QQ each 
    • HoK-specific restrictions:
      • Minors age 12 and under are limited to 1 hour/day of game time, and cannot play between 9PM and 8AM
      • Minors over 12 are limited to 2 hours/day
    • Beginning in the Beijing area at first, Tencent plans to roll this out for HoK nationwide, and then eventually for other games as well

Business Strategy



  • Using machine learning to automate mobile marketing budgets
  • Report: If less than 30% of players come back to your game on Day 2, fix it or kill it
  • First look at EVE Online’s upcoming mobile game: EVE: Echoes


  • Oculus says future Rift hardware is coming despite Iribe’s exit


  • Next 10 Ventures is launching an incubator for YouTube personalities
  • YouTube is replacing textbooks in classrooms across America


  • Meet NetEase, China’s second-largest game publisher
  • Steam developers speak: Maximum profits for Valve, minimum responsibilities
  • Review: "Black Ops 4 Merges Fortnite & PUBG into the Best Call of Duty in Years"
  • How the Red Dead franchise began
    • Related: The making of Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2
  • The Making Of Hollow Knight
  • Phoenix Labs on walking the line between Dauntless and reckless

See more or subscribe at:

Twitter: @kliuless
LinkedIn: @kliuless

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