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Paladins studio “can neither confirm nor deny” that China is banning games

Official comment on rumoured bans is hard to come by


December 12, 2018 Paladins publisher Hi-Rez has issued a statement on the games allegedly banned in China as a result of that country’s recent gaming ethics review.

Stew Chisam, president of Hi-Rez Studios, tells us:

“Tencent manages Paladins in China, including full operation of the game and all interface with the government in regards to the game. At this time Hi-Rez can neither confirm nor deny reports regarding a government ban, and can offer no insights on corrective action.”

Blizzard may have also posted an announcement on its official Weibo account denying that it has received notice for action on its games. That’s according to an update on the Reddit thread that brought this story to our attention, but can’t be verified as the announcement has apparently been deleted. We’re still waiting to hear from Blizzard in a more official capacity, and from Riot.

In case you missed the story, earlier this month, the Chinese government established an Online Ethics Review Committee to review online games against the country’s social and ethical rules. Of the 20 popular online games reportedly included in the first batch, 11 were instructed to take corrective action to address the committee’s concerns. The other nine failed the review entirely, and are now supposedly banned in the country.

That’s according to this Reddit thread, which cites NGA, a Chinese gaming forum, as its original source.


Several of the games on the list are far more popular in China than in the West, produced by companies like Tencent and NetEase. Ten of them, however, have significant Western audiences – the list includes League of Legends, Overwatch, and Fortnite, along with plenty of other popular titles.

League of Legends is joined by Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft in requiring “corrective action.” Reddit’s translation of NGA suggests League has been criticised for its “overly revealing female characters” and “inharmonious chatroom” – although that strikes me as an extremely polite way of talking about League’s community. Overwatch, Diablo, and WoW all also suffer from dodgy in-game chat, Blizzard’s FPS falls foul for having “game visuals [that] promote incorrect values,” and the review concludes that Diablo’s missions “include fraud.”

Further down the list is a group of six games that have been banned altogether, most of which are battle royales; PUBG, Fortnite, H1Z1, and even Tencent’s own Ring of Elysium have all be banned for featuring “blood and gore.” While I can accept some of those, I’m very confused by the take on Fortnite, a game that’s famously devoid of any blood effects.

Hi-Rez’s hero shooter, Paladins, has also been outright banned, for a combination of “overly revealing female characters, blood and gore, and vulgar content.” As with Fortnite, the cartoon aesthetics of Hi-Rez’s shooter seems to be lacking any blood effects, so I’m unsure as to why Overwatch has been given a clearer pass.

Blizzard and Tencent have been hit particularly hard by the review. If you include the Chinese publisher’s stakes in PUBG, League of Legends, and Paladins, Tencent has six games in the list of 20. Blizzard and NetEase appear three and four times, respectively.