Since 2016, anyone who wants to publish an online or mobile game in China has to get approved by the NPPA—National Press and Publication Administration—and receive its ISBN license.

With numerous licenses revoked and thousands of unlicensed games removed from the App Store since July 2020, Chinese gaming authorities are clamping down on mobile games.  

To begin your journey to compliance, we recommend reviewing the NPPA’s notice on mobile game content specifications, translated by our team of China experts and included in its entirety below.

For an overview of 2019 and 2020 updates to these regulations, check out our guide to publishing in China


China’s Mobile Game Content Specifications (2016 Edition) 

Article 1. In order to guide the self-discipline of the industry, strengthen the construction of mobile game content, and promote the healthy and prosperous development of mobile game publishing, these Regulations are formulated in accordance with the Regulations on The Administration of Publication, Regulations on the Administration of Online Publishing Services, and other relevant national laws and regulations, and the Constitution of China Audiovisual and Digital Publishing Association.

 

Article 2. The term “mobile games” as mentioned in these Rules refers to games that are downloaded by the public or interacted with online through information networks and run on mobile smart terminals such as mobile phones.

The mobile game content mentioned in this Specification refers to the language, story background, plot and scene (map), character modeling, props and equipment, music and sound effects, task functions, instructions, and advertisements in the mobile game.

 

Article 3. Mobile games shall, in accordance with the requirements of “notice on health game advice”, publish the full healthy gaming advice text in a prominent position on the game’s start screen.

Healthy Gaming Advice

Resist bad games, refuse pirated games.

Pay attention to self-protection and be wary of deception.

Moderate gaming benefits the brain, addiction to games harms it.

Arrange your time reasonably, and enjoy a healthy life.

 

Article 4. The use of characters in mobile games shall be regulated in accordance with the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the National Common Language and Characters, the Regulations on the Use of Chinese Characters in Publications, and the Notice on Further Regulating the Use of Characters in Publications, or the like.

 

Article 5. For online mobile games, software to filter inappropriate content shall be installed to screen said content.

 

Article 6. Mobile games shall not contain content that “opposes the basic principles determined by the Constitution,” including but not limited to any content that:

6.1 Opposes the people’s democratic republic, or attacks, slanders, discounts, distorts, or demonizes China’s people’s congress system, the electoral system, the judicial system, the system of regional ethnic autonomy and special administrative regions, the military system, the Communist Party of China which leads the multi-party cooperation and political consultation system, the basic economic system, and distribution system of the socialist system.

6.2 Opposes the leadership of the Communist Party of China, or attacks, slanders, derogates, distorts, or defames the CPC’s leadership position, governing ability, and image.

6.3 Opposes the guidance of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, and the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics, or attacks, slanders, derogates, distorts, or demonizes them.

 

Article 7. Mobile games shall not contain content that “endangers national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity,” including but not limited to any content that:

7.1 Separates Taiwan, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the Tibet Autonomous Region, Diaoyu Dao, Chiwei Yu, Nanhai Zhudao, and any other part of China from the People’s Republic of China.

7.2 Expresses Taiwan, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region, and any other region of China as a sovereign state.

7.3 Omits the quotation marks of official institutions and titles of local authorities in Taiwan after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, such as “Academia Sinica”, “Executive Yuan” and “President”.

7.4 Displays the logo of the official organ of the Taiwan local authorities after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

7.5 Advocates aggression by:

7.5.1 Distorting historical facts, publicizing or beautifying the aggressors, or deliberately exaggerating their acts of aggression or roles as aggressors;

7.5.2 Fictitiously depicting armed forces, organizations or individuals from outside China as having intruded on China’s territory, airspace, territorial waters, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, or subsoil;

7.5.3 Depicting armed forces, organizations, or individuals outside China attacking any target on China’s territory or in our embassies or consulates abroad, or entering China to engage in activities that infringe on China’s sovereignty, under any name or pretext, such as counter-terrorism or pursuit of fugitives.

7.6 Expresses or describes activities such as foreign civilian vessels and aircraft entering China’s territory, airspace, territorial waters, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, or subsoil for exploitation without permission.

7.7 Misrepresents the names of China’s territory, airspace, territorial waters, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, subsoil, or boundary segments and regions in dispute with other countries.

7.8 Displays the following kinds of maps that are claimed to be maps of China’s borders (not including fictitious maps resembling but not called maps of China):

7.8.1 Any map showing the national boundaries of the People’s Republic of China that has not been drawn in accordance with the boundary treaties, agreements, and protocols concluded between the People’s Republic of China and the neighboring countries concerned and their appended maps;

7.8.2 Any map indicating the boundary section of the People’s Republic of China when a boundary treaty with the neighboring country concerned has not yet been signed that is not drawn in accordance with the standard sample map of the national boundaries of the People’s Republic of China;

7.8.3 Any map indicating China’s historical boundaries from 1840 to the founding of the People’s Republic of China that is not drawn in accordance with the standard sample map of China’s historical boundaries (those before 1840 were not drawn according to actual historical boundaries);

7.8.4 Other content related to the boundaries of China’s maps that violate relevant laws, regulations, and policies.

 

Article 8. Mobile games shall not contain content that “divulges State secrets, endangers State security or harms national honor and interests,” including but not limited to any content that:

8.1 Involves the following confidential content:

8.1.1 Confidential information on major party decisions and state affairs;

8.1.2 Confidential maps and internal maps;

8.1.3 Confidential matters involving national defense construction and armed forces;

8.1.4 Confidential matters involving diplomatic and foreign affairs activities;

8.1.5 Confidential matters relating to the national economy, social development, or science and technology;

8.1.6 Confidential matters relating to activities for the maintenance of state security and the investigation of criminal offenses;

8.1.7 Other confidential content that, in accordance with relevant laws and regulations, is not to be disclosed.

8.2 Glorifies, promotes, or praises various separatist forces, anti-China organizations, or spy agencies.

8.3 Incites, abets, or encourages any organization or individual to engage in any form of subversion against the Chinese government, division of the Chinese state, or endangering of China’s national security.

8.4 Attacks, defames, burns, defaces, defiles, desecrates or performs any other undignified act toward the national flag, national anthem, national emblem, Party flag, Party emblem, military flag, military song, military emblem, Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of the People, the Great Wall, memorial columns, and other symbols of the Chinese state, political power, military, and national identity.

8.5 Attacks, derogates, defaces, distorts, fabricates, or tampers with the history of our country, our Party, our army, or the images of their outstanding figures.

8.6 Attacks, denigrates, defames, distorts, or damages the images of other countries’ regimes, nationalities, the Party, leaders, or armed forces in contradiction to China’s foreign policies and position on international norms.

8.7 Promotes fascism, glorifies the images of aggressive wars, armies, or war criminals, or depicts the above-mentioned armies or figures as role models.

 

Article 9. Mobile games shall not contain content that “incites ethnic hatred and discrimination, undermines ethnic unity, or infringes on ethnic customs and habits,” including but not limited to any content that:

9.1 Fabricates, exaggerates, or contradicts historical facts regarding conflicts or disputes among different ethnic groups.

9.2 Denigrates, insults, uglifies, or distorts the images of the Chinese ethnic groups, such as their national characteristics and figures.

9.3 Belittles, distorts, or denies the history, status, roles, contributions, or values of the Chinese ethnic groups.

9.4 Proclaims the dominance or privileged nature of a particular nationality or religion.

9.5 Undermines ethnic unity, religious harmony, and freedom of belief.

9.6 Denigrates, damages, uglifies, or insults the traditional customs, taboos, and symbols with national characteristics peculiar to the Chinese ethnic groups.

9.7 Advocates that foreign forces undermine China’s ethnic unity and interfere in religious affairs.

 

Article 10. Mobile games shall not contain any content “promoting cults and superstitions”, including but not limited to any content that:

10.1 Promotes Falun Gong and other cults that are hostile to the state, anti-government, or harmful to society.

10.2 Preaches the “cult of the hierophant”, displays portraits of the leading members of the cult, or deifies them.

10.3 Preaches the rules and doctrines of cults, scriptures, classic literature, symbolism, and the like.

10.4 Propagates the practice of cults.

10.5 Creates or spreads evil ideas to ensnare or deceive others or to exercise mind control.

10.6 Distorts or tampers with traditional religious teachings.

10.7 Depicts fortune-telling, exorcisms, or other practices with superstitious characteristics.

10.8 Creates or exaggerates supernatural phenomena, under the guise of science, and depicts them as occurring in real life.

 

Article 11. Mobile games shall not contain any content that “disturbs social order or undermines social stability”, including but not limited to any content that:

11.1 Takes real social life as the background of the game, sets relevant functions or plots, and Promotes various activities that disrupt social order and undermine social stability.

11.2 Promotes the use of violence, threats, or other means to resist or hinder state functionaries from performing their official duties in accordance with the law.

11.3 Maliciously demonizes or attacks any group or race in a particular area.

11.4 Induces users to directly or indirectly invest legal tender to obtain game products or services by means of random extraction and without specifying specific rules.

 

Article 12. Mobile games shall not contain any content “promoting obscenity, gambling, violence or abetting crimes”, including but not limited to:

12.1 Content that is obscene or pornographic, including:

12.1.1 Depictions of the process or details of incest, rape, gang rape, group sexual immorality, or similar acts;

12.1.2 Depictions of sexual behavior among minors, sexual behavior between adults and minors, or similar acts;

12.1.3 Depictions of homosexual behavior or similar acts;

12.1.4 Depictions of deviant sexual behavior or violence, abuse or insult related to deviant sexual behavior, or similar acts;

12.1.5 Depictions of the process and details of prostitution, whoring, or similar acts;

12.1.6 Physical representations of human or human-like nudity and reproductive organs;

12.1.7 Depictions or representations of the reproductive organs of animals;

12.1.8 Written descriptions of sexual functions;

12.1.9 The performance of sexual acts, acts suggestive of sexual activity, or sounds suggestive of sexual activity;

12.1.10 Depictions of the performance of sex or teaching of sexual skills;

12.1.11 Manifestations or descriptions of sexually-transmittable diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, or AIDS;

12.1.12 Use of explicit language to describe sexual transactions, sexual psychology, sexual behavior, sexual experience, or the like;

12.1.13 Promotion of sexual openness and freedom.

12.2 Content that involves gambling, including:

12.2.1 The express introduction of the forms of gambling or the methods and skills used in gambling;

12.2.2 The depiction of gambling functions or provision of gambling services;

12.2.3 The collection of commissions related to the winning or losing of a game disguised in as “virtual currency”;

12.2.4 The setting up of game points where players bet on winning or losing, or other guesses, where the developer has not set a number of points that can be won or lost per play or per day;

12.2.5 The function of trading game points or exchanging them for cash or property under the guise of “virtual currency”;

12.2.6 The provision of game point transfer services, such as gifts or other transfers between users.

12.3 Content that advocates violence, terror, or cruelty, including:

12.3.1 Lifelike depictions of the mutilated or decomposed human body, showing clearly the process of being injured or scenes such as blood spurting, blood flowing into rivers, and blood flowing on the ground;

12.3.2 Deliberately exposed corpses, dismembered corpses, impaled corpses, tortured corpses, or other unnatural acts performed on dead bodies;

12.3.3 The publicizing or advocation of the effects of weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons, nuclear weapons and anti-human weapons, or the deliberate depiction of horrific scenes of mass destruction;

12.3.4 Deliberate representations or design of characters, images, or scenes that are too scary in appearance.

 

Article 13. Mobile games shall not contain content that “insults or slanders others or infringes upon others’ legitimate rights and interests,” including but not limited to:

13.1 Taunting or insulting others with words or gestures or actions.

13.2 Maliciously using the names of political figures or public figures or the homophonic pronunciation of their names.

13.3 Deliberately displaying the physical or mental defects of others and infringing on their personal dignity.

13.4 Disseminating false facts that cause dishonor or damage to another person’s reputation.

13.5 Illegally or disrespectfully using the likeness of another person to infringe upon the rights or privacy of said person.

13.6 Spreading private information of others or interfering with their private lives.

 

Article 14. Mobile games shall not contain content that “endangers social morality or the excellent cultural tradition of a nation,” including but not limited to content that:

14.1 Violates the basic moral requirements of loving the motherland, the people, labor, science, and socialism.

14.2 Deliberately shows dirty, vulgar, or obscene words and deeds such as fighting, dirty words, or spitting.

14.3 Occupies, damages, or destroys China’s cultural relics, places of historic interest, government offices, landmark buildings, or the like.

14.4 Shows ridicule, discrimination, or insult to women, children, the elderly, the disabled, or other vulnerable groups in society.

14.5 Confuses the boundaries between right and wrong, good and evil, beauty and ugliness, or presents other circumstances that are not conducive to the construction of a harmonious society.

14.6 Advocates corrupt and parasitic lifestyles such as money-first, extravagant spending, wife-changing games, extramarital affairs, one-night stands, the keeping of lovers or mistresses, or the flaunting of large amounts of money.

14.7 Promotes the use of power for personal gain or the exchange of power for money, or vice versa.

14.8 Tramples on the excellent cultural heritage of a nation and maliciously tampering with major historical and cultural events and the images of representative figures.

14.9 Preaches patriarchal concepts, the superiority of men to women, polygamy, and the like.

14.10 Weakens, denigrates or denies the historical status and existence value of the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation or nullifies and vulgarizes the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation; or promotes world views, historical views, and values contrary to the fine cultural traditions of the Chinese nation.

14.11 Denigrates or denies the great national spirit of unity and harmony, love of peace, diligence, courage, and constant self-improvement, with patriotism at its core.

 

Article 15. Mobile games shall not contain content that induces minors to imitate acts that violate social ethics and laws or to commit crimes or acts that are harmful to the physical and mental health of minors, including but not limited to any content that:

15.1 Promotes violations of laws the committing of crimes or content that would tempt minors to imitate or learn:

15.1.1 Expressing and describing in detail the means, methods, or details of a crime and thereby inducing or encouraging minors to imitate the crime;

15.1.2 Beautifying the image of a criminal and thereby arousing the minors’ sympathy for or admiration of the criminal;

15.1.3 Promoting the infringement of state, collective, and private property by improper means, such as playing the role of a thief or stealing, defrauding, seizing or robbing;

15.1.4 Depicting criminals escaping from legal punishment and despising the dignity of the law, for example by setting up functions for purging, bribery, prison break, or the like;

15.1.5 Promoting or concretely representing triad organizations and their behaviors;

15.1.6 Encouraging, inducing, or rewarding malicious player killings.

15.2 Promotes drug abuse or drug trafficking, including inducing minors to imitate and study:

15.2.1 Planting opium poppy and other narcotic plants;

15.2.2 Promoting and giving concrete expression to the manufacture, smuggling, transportation, trafficking, and purchase of narcotic drugs;

15.2.3 Publicizing or concretely manifest the method or process of smoking, injecting or seducing, abetting, deceiving, or forcing others to smoke or inject drugs;

15.2.4 Advocating the effects of drugs on people;

15.2.5 Promoting or demonstrating profits obtained through drug trafficking.

15.3 Promotes other contents harmful to the physical and mental health of minors:

15.3.1. Focusing on presenting content in a vulgar style;

15.3.2. Specifically, depicting underage drinking, smoking, and other behaviors, or having tobacco as a prop in the game;

15.3.3 Discouraging minors from frequenting establishments, such as schools and after-school clubs, that are fundamental to their development.

15.3.4 Encouraging cohabitation and marriage of minors and other behaviors inappropriate for minors.

 

Article 16. Mobile games shall not contain other content prohibited by national laws, regulations, and rules.

 


How Yodo1 Can Help

If you’ve got a great game, you can’t miss out on the Chinese market. Though licensing may seem challenging, Yodo1 has spent more than eight years making the process easy and helping foreign developers find long-term success in China. 

More than just a publishing partner, Yodo1 is your one-stop platform for localization, UA, monetization, community management, and more. Our team of Chinese legal experts and optimization specialists is ready to help you adapt your game and capture a player base of 600 million and growing.

For the quickest path to success in China, contact bd@yodo1.com

 


About Yodo1

Yodo1 is a game platform company that helps developers better market, manage, and monetize their games. Our AI-powered tools and global expertise in areas such as mobile advertising, community management, and digital IP licensing enable partners to increase playtime, revenue, and retention. Our vision is to open the world of gaming success to anyone with the talent to develop. To learn more, visit www.yodo1.com and follow us on LinkedIn.

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