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Chaos among Chinese regulators pulls Monster Hunter: World off shelves

Uncertainty among game regulators has led to Monster Hunter: World being delisted in China

Monster Hunter - World PC version

Monster Hunter: World is no longer available for sale in China. The PC version of the game launched on Tencent’s WeGame platform on August 8, a day before the Steam release. Players will be issued refunds – but the bigger question is exactly what this means for game sales in China, as Tencent cites “numerous reports” from authorities regarding the game’s failure to meet the country’s regulatory requirements.

The State Administration of Radio and Television – or SART – handles approval of games for sale in China. This organization only took form in March, replacing the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, following the removal of presidential term limits and leader Xi Jinping’s establishment as “president for life.”

A report from the South China Morning Post last week suggests that this change is part of “a broader government overhaul to strengthen the Communist Party’s control over cultural policies.” The newly established SART had not issued licenses for any new game titles since March 28, according to the report, meaning no new games have been legally approved for sale.

Exactly what this means for Monster Hunter: World’s delisting is unclear, but a report from the Financial Times (subscription required, summarized by GI.biz) suggests that “bureaucratic infighting” among regulators is to blame, according to a source close to WeGame.

WeGame’s official statement cites “a large number of complaints” in the reason for its removal of Monster Hunter: World, though it stops short of describing exactly what those complaints are. It could be a technical issue, or some element of the game could be found to violate regulations on violence or sexual content – though the latter, at least, seems unlikely. Perhaps more believable is the idea that someone at Tencent thought they had tacit approval and pushed the MHW release through without official confirmation and paperwork, but even that is a pure bit of speculation.

With or without the Chinese version, Capcom’s latest has already been massively successful on PC. Initial Monster Hunter: World player counts made it Steam’s biggest Japanese release – ever – in only a handful of hours, and the momentum has yet to slow. (It is, after all, one of the best new PC games of 2018.) Hopefully Chinese players will have another chance to pick it up soon.