Gaming is big business in China – the video gaming market is four times bigger than the movie industry – but recent regulatory interventions have the potential to reshape the environment.

A new gaming authority, the State Administration of Press and Publication, has only recently resumed a stalled approval process to license new games for monetisation. TechCrunch reported that the number of new games allowed onto the market every year will be capped, while some genres will no longer be eligible.

Among the latter are games relating to China’s imperial history, including gongdou (harem scheming) and guandou (rivalry among palace officials); one observer suggested the authorities were concerned about the potential for “obscene contents and the risk of political metaphors”. Similarly, no new games containing images of blood or corpses will be accepted.

While gamers themselves may not be enthused by tamer content, Reuters suggested that the new regulations could help more innovative publishers, noting that poker and mahjong titles – cheap to make – had been most affected by the decrease in Q1 approvals.

In what may be a related move, Tencent was recently given permission to distribute the Nintendo Switch console with a test version of a Super Mario Bros game. Neither that nor Nintendo’s other games, including Zelda and Pokemon, are likely to trouble the regulator with blood and corpses.

China Skinny has also noted how the gender profile of gamers is shifting away from the male stereotype – some estimates say half of China’s 530 million gamers are female – and how gaming has become “a pillar in many Chinese social lives, a convenient place to meet others with shared interests, and the closest thing many have to playing team sports, brother and sisterhood”.

It added that marketers’ gamification strategies generally fail to engage Chinese consumers, but that awareness-building initiatives through placements and partnerships have significant potential to develop gaming as a sales channel for both goods and services.

It cited the examples of a female-focused mobile dating game, Love and Producer, which generated an estimated $32 million of in-app purchases within a month of launch, and cosmetics brand M.A.C., which sold out in 24 hours a limited-edition range of lipsticks aimed at female players of Tencent’s Honour of Kings game.

Sourced from TechCrunch, Reuters, China Skinny, Jing Daily; additional content by WARC staff