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China approves 45 imported video games in December

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BEIJING — China’s online game regulator granted publishing licenses to 45 foreign video games for release in the country on Wednesday,further lifting rigid curbs that have hammered the industry for 18 months.

The National Press and Publication Administration approved a total of 45 imported online games including “Pokémon Unite” by Nintendo and card game “Gwent: The Witcher Card Game” by CD Projekt, according to a list it released.

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The regulator approved 84 domestic games for the month of December, according to another list released on Wednesday.

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The approval of imported games effectively marks the end of Beijing’s crackdown on the video games industry which began last August when regulators suspended the game approval process.

Regulators resumed issuing game licenses to homegrown games in April, and the approval of foreign games was seen as the last regulatory curb to be removed.

Unlike in most other countries, video games need approval from regulators before release in China, the world’s largest gaming market.

Beijing’s year-long crackdown on the industry has dealt a significant blow to Chinese tech companies including Tencent Holdings and NetEase Inc which derive substantial revenue from publishing both self-developed and imported games.

Pokémon Unite is the biggest imported title on the list that has received a publishing license.

Co-created by Nintendo and Tencent, the game was first released on the Nintendo Switch outside of China on July last year. The game had surpassed 50 million downloads by the end of last December, according to Tencent. (Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Tom Hogue and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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