The approval process for video games inside China takes much longer than most other countries due to government restrictions that have been put in place. It's why many within the industry saw it as wonderful news that backlogged game titles were starting to be approved for licensing once more. The mood quickly shifted, though, when it was revealed that the State Administration of Press and Publication had made the decision to ban certain types of gambling and most forms of violence in video games.
This didn't come as a huge surprise to many in the gaming community, however, given the Chinese government's track record and the fact that Valve, the publishers of Counter Strike Global Offensive, had to overcome many hurdles before introducing the game to the Chinese market. Valve was able to accomplish the feat in large part thanks to its collaboration with Chinese gaming company Perfect World.
While this seemed to be a step in the right direction, recent news suggest that the Chinese government has decided to backpedal once more. According to engadget.com, China's governing body that oversees video game development and publication made the move because it had deep concerns about the effects of both violence and gambling on its younger population. Gambling addiction is a real problem around the world, but it has become a major problem in China in recent years due to the fact that so many companies see a great opportunity to earn a substantial profit inside the country. Additionally, illegal gambling has also become a major problem in recent years.
Not only has gambling inside video games in China taken a major hit with this move, but so too has blood and gore. Before this most recent rule change, game companies could get around the ban by simply changing blood to an unnatural color such as blue and green. This might seem odd, but a similar process was done when Mortal Kombat came out on the Super Nintendo in 1993, though fatalities and backgrounds were also edited to tone down the violence and make the game more family friendly. Unfortunately, with the new rule change, game developers will no longer be able to use these tricks to get past the government censors and corpses in games like CS:GO will have to be removed. Additionally, certain politically-themed games and those that fall outside of socially acceptable territory may also be banned.
While the gambling ban is certainly understandable, it takes game development in China in the wrong direction. Rather than implement a rating system and institute age restrictions on certain features, the government has decided to limit or ban these features from games all together. Given the popularity of western games within the country in recent years and the rise of esports, it is possible that the government may lift these new restrictions at some point. It could be a simple knee-jerk reaction and a result of internal pressure, but it remains to be seen when or if the government will even entertain the idea of relaxing these new restrictions.