Chinese authorities have decided to halt issuing of licenses for monetisation of new games, in order to clear up the backlog of games pending licenses, which in turn built up after a similar move by the government in March last year.
General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) has reportedly announced its decision, which in practice means another delay to address a delay.
Granted, we're talking about games that have been pending licenses for a while, with Playerunknown's Battlegrounds and Fortnite: Battle Royale being one of the most prominent titles on the waiting list.
It has been estimated that around 5,000 games were waiting to be reviewed once the licensing process was resumed in December 2018. Unfortunately, GAPP has only managed to approve 538 thus far, which doesn't quite instil confidence for the rest of the year.
Various analysts, as well as representatives from Tencent and NetEase, have said they expect anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 more games to be cleared by the end of 2019, but now we're unsure whether those are expectations or just wishes.
If GAPP can return to their earlier tempo, however, the matter should be cleared up in no time, as they managed to license 1,982 games from January to March 2018. Back in 2017, they cleared 9,651 games for launch so we guess there's still room for optimism.
The companies involved will certainly need some, as the likes of Tencent have paid dearly for the Chinese government's gaming crackdown. What started as concerns over alarming rates of nearsightedness in children grew into a profit eater, with Tencent losing billions on this account.
This news comes in a time when Tencent and NetEase have been licenses for their first games in a while, which although not ideal, at least marked the start of normal operations. Unfortunately, it's said that the stock market's reacting to the new delay already, which again means more losses for the publishing giant.
Everyone is hoping that the halt is merely procedural, because dragging the matter on is just further damaging of some of the biggest companies in China and consequently the world.