China approves second batch of video games after freeze, but still no Tencent

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have green lit a second batch of video games after a freeze for most of last year, though once again there was no mention of industry leader Tencent Holdings Ltd on the list of approved titles.

According to a list from China’s broadcasting watchdog - the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television - 84 new video games have been approved.

This is the second such list in a fortnight after the body gave its nod to 80 video games in late December.

Despite the thaw in approvals, the biggest two players in the market, Tencent and domestic rival NetEase Inc, did not appear to have any games on either list.

The freeze on new approvals had spooked companies in the world’s largest gaming market, where an estimated 620 million players spent $37.9 billion last year, mostly on mobile and PC games, according to gaming market research firm Newzoo.

China stopped approving new titles from March 2018 amid a regulatory overhaul triggered by growing criticism of video games for being violent and leading to myopia as well as addiction among young users.

Tencent in December had said that signs of a thaw in gaming approvals were “clearly exciting news” for the country’s gaming industry and that the firm would look to ensure the content of its games complied with regulations.

The Hong Kong-listed company’s shares took a major knock last year, in part because of concern over the gaming approvals freeze, wiping billions of dollars off its market value.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Himani Sarkar