So how will China’s video game ban affect the rest of the world?
As of 2020, market researcher Niko Partners had data that said about 42% of China’s population played video games, which is roughly 720 million players. They estimate that by 2024 the gaming population of China will be around 772 million, which is twice as big as the entire population of the United States.
Gaming publishers will obviously want a cut of that large market, so the shift towards Games As A Service projects, indie retro revivals and fast paced multiplayer action games could be rapidly accelerated in search of profit. This would create more games where you can just drop in and out, but would shift the way stories are told in most games away from open world cinematic adventures that can take up to a hundred hours each.
It’s worth noting that the Chinese video game restrictions don’t apply to people over the age of 17 however, so we could just see longer games for adults, while children’s and all-ages games will probably get shorter and faster in pace.
How will China’s video game limit affect eSports?
It’s already worth noting that China already places restrictions on the video games industry. For a long time, foreign consoles weren’t even allowed into the region, leading to strange consoles and collaboration brands like the iQue, a collaboration between Japanese gaming giant Nintendo and an entrepreneurial Chinese-American scientist called Wei Yen.
In an attempt to counter internet addiction in young people (which China was concerned about as early as 2008) games like League of Legends have tracked players’ ages with state-issued identification numbers and if they were found to be a minor had their available times restricted in accordance with laws.
It’s likely that these updated Chinese video game restrictions will affect the balance of some games, as MOBA games like DOTA2, Rainbow Six Siege or Counter Strike: Global Operation can sometimes take as long as 90 minutes. Fortnite and other Battle Royale competitors should be largely unaffected, as thanks to the storm, matches usually take no more than 25 minutes each.
While it is too early to see how things will play out, we can only hope that the key video game industry players won’t compromise and change things too much overall for the Chinese market.
It could, sadly, just be that China starts to be split off from the rest of the online gaming community, with special re-balanced or otherwise altered versions of games that work only in the region. It would be a shame, but this is a strategy that games like Rainbow Six Siege, Fortnite and DOTA 2 already employ to a lesser extent.