This article may lend undue weight to certain ideas, incidents, or controversies. (November 2015)
Video gaming in China is a massive industry and pastime that includes the production, sale, import/export, and playing of video games. China is the largest, highest grossing and the most profitable video game market in the world, since 2015. The landscape of the topic is strongly shaped by China's average income level, rampant software piracy, and governmental measures to control game content and playing times. In 2011, China's PC game sector was worth $6 billion, the largest in the world. Arcade games are also a thriving industry in China. Console games were banned from the country in 2000, but the ban was lifted in July 2015.
In eSports, China has been the world leader in terms of tournament winnings, possessing some of the best talents in the world across multiple video games, as well as one of the largest pool of video gamers. As of 2017, half of the top 20 highest earning eSports players in the world are Chinese.
China has domestically produced a number of games, including the Genesis of the Century trilogy (The World of Legend, The Age, and Magical Land), Westward Journey, The Incorruptible Warrior, and Crazy Mouse. There are a large number of domestically-made massively multiplayer online role-playing game MMORPGs in China, although many generally remain unheard of outside of the country.
Although China's growing economy has boosted the economic prospects of most Chinese in the last couple of decades, the cost of a personal computer, video game console, or Internet connection remains prohibitive for many Chinese. The popularity of internet cafes has increased in the country as a result. Rather than purchasing their own hardware and software, users are simply charged a small fee (often by the hour) to use an Internet cafe computer which often comes preloaded with a selection of games. Chinese internet cafes often impose age limits to protect minors from what may be adult content.
The Chinese game Happy Farm (2008) was included in Wired's list of "The 15 Most Influential Games of the Decade" at #14, for its major influence on social network games, particularly for having "inspired a dozen Facebook clones," the largest being Zynga's FarmVille. A number of other games have since used similar game mechanics, such as Sunshine Farm, Happy Farmer, Happy Fishpond, Happy Pig Farm, Farm Town, Country Story, Barn Buddy, Sunshine Ranch, and Happy Harvest, as well as parodies such as Jungle Extreme and Farm Villain.
Arcade games are still a thriving industry in China, where amusement arcades are widespread across the country. Its popularity in China is comparable to that of PC gaming at internet cafes. This is partly due to the country's ban on console games since the early 2000s, it has since been lifted. As a result, Chinese gamers frequently visit the arcades to play action games, particularly fighting games, and occasionally unlicensed arcade ports of popular PC or mobile games such as Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies. The arcades and internet cafes operate in a similar manner in China.
As with almost all mass media in the country, video games in China are subject to the policies of censorship in China.
On July 2015, the ban on video game consoles within the country was lifted. According to a statement from the country's Ministry of Culture, companies like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft — among others — will now be allowed to manufacture and sell video game consoles anywhere in the country.
Game consoles were first banned in 2000 due to fears that the devices — and the 3D worlds produced by them — had a negative effect on the mental and physical development of children. In 2015, China eased those restrictions by letting game console-makers operate in an experimental 11-square-mile area in Shanghai, known as the free trade zone.
The State General Administration of Press and Publication and anti-porn and illegal publication offices have also played a role in screening games.
Examples of banned games have included:
In addition to banning games completely, several games have had their content screened to remove certain imagery deemed offensive or unfavorable. Common examples include skeletons or skulls being either fleshed out or removed entirely. Cases of which can be seen in Chinese versions of popular video games such as DOTA 2 and World of Warcraft.
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