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Tencent, NetEase Games Approved in Sign China’s Crackdown Is Easing

(Bloomberg) -- Tencent Holdings Ltd. won approval for a new game for the first time since Chinese regulators froze all licensing in 2021, as Beijing gradually lifts curbs in the world’s largest mobile entertainment market.

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A health-education game created by the company was among 73 domestic titles approved Tuesday by the National Press and Publication Administration, the fifth batch of licenses granted this year. The WeChat operator missed out on previous rounds that started in April, when regulators resumed publishing regular lists of approved titles following the suspension.

Smaller rival NetEase Inc. also made the September list. Its shares rose in US premarket trading.

While Tencent’s name doesn’t show up on the list, its educational game “Defense of Health” was approved with a company called Nanjing Wangdian Technology as its operator. Wangdian is controlled by Tencent executives including co-founder Pony Ma, according to company registry tracker Qichacha.com. Tencent had unveiled “Defense of Health” during a 2021 event, along with other educational games that typically don’t serve as money makers.

July: Tencent Fails to Win Game Approval as China Concerns Persist

Beijing’s tech crackdown, which which ensnared sectors from e-commerce to fintech and even online education over a tumultuous year, spread to online gaming in August 2021, when regulators introduced stringent measures such as capping play time for minors and imposed other requirements aimed at curbing addiction.

China’s media watchdog halted licensing and has since been more carefully reviewing new titles to determine whether they meet stricter criteria on content and child protection, slowing rollouts, Bloomberg News has reported.

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