China’s video game industry regulator the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) and copyright watchdog issued a circular on Saturday prohibiting foreign investment in domestic online gaming operations through joint ventures, wholly owned enterprises and cooperatives.
The new directive also disallows foreign firms from indirectly influencing Chinese gaming firms through agreements or technology support.
Interestingly, a Ministry of Culture (MoC) official “expressed his shock” (link in Chinese) at GAPP’s latest announcements, saying it clearly violates the State Council’s earlier guidelines. It’s quite rare to see different branches of the government argue in public, but the MoC will probably take some further actions to protect their turf.
That same blog also includes quotes to Chinese market commentators saying that at a minimum this means another closure for World of Warcraft while they pay the correct bribes get their paperwork in order.
In any event I’m sure this was all a pleasant surprise for all the Westerners in town for GDC China this week!