Hendrick Sin, the co-founder of Chinese gaming company CMGE, warns that Beijing will soon regulate video games as harshly as movies and television. The move comes after the government decided that video games are a channel for expressing ideology.

Beijing to extend the list of dos and don't for video games

China is known for controlling its media channels and only making content available to its population in line with its ideology. For that reason, the country strictly enforces the import of foreign content, and many services are unavailable, such as Netflix, Facebook, WhatsApp, and more.

Video games have always had to follow specific guidelines in China, yet the government has been cracking down on them in recent months. For example, Beijing explained in August that minors would be restricted to one-hour gameplay per day on Fridays, the weekend, and all public holidays with immediate effect. Video game developers have also been instructed to refrain from using specific storylines in their content, such as same-sex marriage or glorifying other cultures over Chinese culture. For that reason, many gaming companies have shifted from acquiring intellectual property to foreign video game content to Chinese IPs, explains Hendrick Sin.

Online gambling will remain illegal in mainland China

As the Chinese government introduced stricter laws for video games, some had hoped for a makeover of online gambling regulations. However, the lawmakers made clear that online casinos and bookmakers, any of their sister sites, and Internet lotteries will remain illegal in mainland China as it has been since the Communist Party took power in 1949.

When it comes to gambling, online or offline, China follows a somewhat contradictory approach. Beijing disallows any form of gambling activity, which includes gambling overseas; however, it tolerates legal gambling cities in Hong Kong and Macau and frequent travel to them by its citizens. China also operates a state-run lottery.

Using VPNs to access illegal gaming and gambling content in China

With such strict restrictions, it is no surprise that VPNs and proxy servers are thriving to access forbidden content. Chinese players who are trying to access illegal titles on the Playstation and Xbox store, or engage in illegal online gambling, might face harsh consequences, though.

It's been estimated that 30 per cent of Internet users in China regularly use a VPN, and while China used to focus on blocking the providers of such services, its focus is now the end-user.

Chinese individuals caught using a VPN will now be fined USD 145, an immense sum for Chinese citizens if they don't happen to live and work in Beijing. On top, using a VPN to consume illegal content might result in additional fines. Playing at an online casino, for instance, means that you might have to forfeit any winnings. The government can also prosecute you for money laundering since any transactions would have to go through an unlicensed underground bank.

It remains to be seen whether the Chinese government can succeed in its crackdown on Internet content perceived as a threat to their idealogy. However, the latest restrictions on video gaming content suggest that Beijing is not going to stop trying anytime soon.