Bringing Your Games To China, The Short Answer

2020.4.27 Other News by COCOS

Many people know that China is one of the fastest-growing gaming countries in the past few years. The issue, of course, is how do you enter the market and make it in the game industry. Many websites give you some of the picture, but we’d like to give you the whole picture.

In this article, we’re going to give you the very short answer to what is required, what is needed, and what are good ideas for your game and your business to have success in the Chinese game industry.

The Requirements

There are a few things you need to have to enter the industry. First is that you have to have a game. Now it doesn’t matter if it’s a mobile, console, PC, or web game. All need to have a publisher in China. This is due to the rules China placed requiring all games for purchase or free-to-play needing an ISBN (ad-supported games are still in a grey zone requiring the ISBN, but this has not really having been enforced at this time.)

Second, the publisher needs to be certified to be publishing games in China. The reason behind this is only those companies that are fully Chinese owned companies are allowed to publish in China. We’ll cover all the laws and requirements for that next week in a much longer article. But they do need to have the proper business license and an ICP certificate to sell games online.

Third is the game must be copyrighted with officials in China. This means sending some of the source code to the government to get it copyrighted and therefore allow your game to get the ISBN.

Next is the approval process where the game is approved by the National Administration of Press and Publication (NAPP) for the ISBN. This is a summary of their requirements for the game to be reviewed:

  1. An introduction letter that contains the game’s name, the publisher name, operator name, the content matter of the game, and data about the game outside China. The game name must only be in Chinese (no Arabic numerals) and not vulgar.
  2. Your “Authorized by the overseas copyright owner for Internet Game Works” application form.
  3. A copy of the publisher’s Business license and ICP certificate stamped and with the official seal of the operating agency as well as the contract of cooperation with the developer.
  4. A photocopy of your copyright papers
  5. Screenshots and detailed descriptions of the game. Screenshots must be in color and show the core of the content, and basic appearance of the game.
  6. Describe the operating mechanism of the game’s anti-addiction system and how it will work. (Currently not needed for mobile, but may be needed in the future)
  7. All scripts for the game including system prompts, NPC dialog, mission descriptions, game prop names, and main story script. This can be sent electronically.
  8. Accounts for testing the anti-addiction system and a child account. (This is for online games)
  9. Three copies of the game on CD, game logins URLs, or a URL to the installation package.
  10. Three CD’s with all the instruction booklets, box art with text, and other text materials as well as a 10-minute video of the gameplay.

Once the NAPP receives it and they approve of the content from their testing, It will be approved for ISBN in no more than 80 BUSINESS days. This is a long time, and so be prepared to wait for a while. This also makes it hard as the NAPP is now being asked to approve fewer games every month.

The Necessary

Your game might need some changes as the laws of what is acceptable for games is much stricter than anywhere in the world. This includes no blood, bones, or having children doing illegal items. There is a long list of items you need to change, but luckily, most publishers have staff trained by the NAPP on what is and isn’t appropriate. So listen carefully and change appropriately.

It’s best you get a few lawyers that are familiar with the game industry in China, Copyright law in China, and Business law in China. It might be costly, but if your game is a worldwide hit like Gardenscapes, Angry Birds, or Castle Clash, you know it’s going to be worth it.

We also think that localization is going to be very important for your game to succeed. Many popular games that were brought to China with only just a translation of the text could have won a lot more people over if they had added a bit of flair with more localization. Finding a great partner is hard, but there are a few great localization companies in the country.

A Good Idea

It’s best that you find a publisher that will help in not only the publishing of the game, but as well as the operations, customer service, and marketing of the game in Weibo, WeChat, and other locations. Many companies have great operation teams, but customer service is always a challenge. So look for those who have good plans and are known for their service

Also when you can, come to China and meet the publisher and those working with you on the game. This is a great time to know lower-level team members, exchange contact information with more people in the company, and maybe go out for a few parties and karaoke with them. Chinese business isn’t just about the legal agreements and money made, and it’s also about the relationships you make that help both parties for the future. So make great bonding experiences for everyone.

Finally, learn more about the market and know what things you can do to improve your game for the market that Chinese players will love like the culture, places, and history. This has helped some companies in their marketing, game accessibility and future sales by going the extra mile.


So enjoy bringing your game to China and if you need more help, check next week for a detailed look, or contact us for more information and help you find great publishers in the country.