Beijing Times, 7/15/08
The Ministry of Culture's (MOC) market regulation department has issued a notice in conjunction with the State Council Information Office (SCIO)'s Internet Bureau criticizing certain online games, including online casual dance game Audition, which is operated in China by 9You. The MOC claims these games do not fully shield users from harmful information and use promotional activities that encourage improper behavior. A representative of the MOC claims the organization has established a system for the supervision of commercially operated Internet cultural activities such as online games. The system will give the Ministry a channel through which it can promptly notify game operators of problems and require them to make changes.
Editor's Note: This newest announcement, which follows concerns voiced last week by the Ministry of Culture about the need to prevent Internet addiction (see "Ministry of Culture to Combat Internet Addiction" MD 7/11/08 issue), will likely set a number of operators scrambling to modify their games in any way necessary to avoid restrictions or penalties. As early as July 1, Giant Interactive (NYSE: GA), for example, had already announced an overhaul of its game ZT Online (see "Giant Begins Large-Scale Update of MMO", MD 7/09/08 issue), a game reputed to have a particularly strong built-in "gambling-like" element. While there may be other considerations behind the modifications, such as restoring better balance to a game that many players have complained gives too great an advantage to those with deep pockets, the timing for the change - just weeks before the latest crackdown - seems to suggest that regulatory compliance may also be a significant factor.