A number of games, which include major esports titles such as League of Legends (LoL), Overwatch, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), and Fortnite: Battle Royale among others, have reportedly been banned in China after they were found to have violated the country’s social and ethical rules.
The bans come following the establishment of the Online Ethics Review Committee by the Chinese government earlier this month. The committee was tasked with reviewing online games in order to establish whether they violate the country’s social and ethical rules or not.
There were 20 popular online games that were reportedly included in the first wave of reviews. Out of that number, 11 were made to take corrective action to address the committee’s concerns.
LoL is joined by several games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, including Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft (WoW), among the group of games that needed to take “corrective action.”
According to a Reddit thread that translated the results of the review process, LoL was banned because it featured “overly revealing female characters” and an “inharmonious chatroom.”
According to the user who posted the thread, “Inharmonious chat” refers to the perceived lack of effort by publishers to combat toxicity, vulgarity, and politically sensitive speech in chats.
Overwatch, Diablo, and WoW were all found to have ‘inharmonious’ chat environments as well. Overwatch was also blasted for showing “game visuals [that] promote incorrect values,” while the missions in Diablo’s story mode were found to “include fraud.”
Nine other games in the list failed the review entirely however and now seem to have been outright banned in China.
Most of those games are battle royales such as PUBG, Fortnite, H1Z1, and Ring of Elysium. All were banned for featuring “blood and gore.”
It is interesting to note that Fortnite’s cartoonish visual themes is famously devoid of any blood and gore effects. This may signal that China is not after the violence depicted in these games, but is instead targeting the battle royale genre altogether.
A hero-centric shooter game similar to Overwatch, Paladins, was also banned for showing “overly revealing female characters, blood and gore, and vulgar content.”
As with Fortnite, Paladins also lacked explicit displays of blood effects. This is interesting to note in comparison to Overwatch, which features blood effects to some degree, but was only cited for “visuals [that] promote incorrect values.”
It is still unclear as to what those incorrect values refer to.
With all that said, several of the games cited on the list are notably far more popular in China than in the West. These were also produced by influential Chinese companies like Tencent and NetEase.
Tencent, in particular, was hit hard by the review, as the conglomerate holds stakes in PUBG, League of Legends, Paladins, and three other titles in the 20-game list.
The companies whose games were included in the list have so far been silent on the matter. It is also unclear how the review will affect the esports industry in China, one of the biggest in the world, as several major esports titles were among those made to take corrective actions or facing outright bans.