China ends gaming approval freeze, grants first licenses since July last year

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HONG KONG, April 11 (Reuters) - China's gaming regulator on Monday granted publishing licenses to 45 games belonging to the likes of Baidu and XD Inc's (2400.HK) "Party Star", ending a nine-month long freeze that has dealt a blow to many of the country's tech giants.

The National Press and Public Administration published the list on its website. Reuters reported that China had granted a license to XD "Party Star" earlier in the day.

Other companies whose games received licenses included iDreamSky (1119.HK), 37Games (002555.SZ), a subsidiary of G-bits Network Technology Xiamen (603444.SS), Shenzhen Zqgame (300052.SZ) and Yoozoo Games (002174.SZ), the list showed.

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U.S.-listed shares of Chinese gaming firms NetEase Inc and Bilibili Inc jumped 8% and 8.6%, respectively, in premarket trading.

Chinese regulators stopped approving game monetisation licences in July last year, impacting heavily the likes of industry giant Tencent Holdings (0700.HK) and NetEase and putting thousands of firms in the industry out of business.

The pause coincided with a move by China in August to impose new gaming time limits on under-18s, a stringent social intervention that it said was needed to pull the plug on a growing addiction to what it once described as "spiritual opium". read more

The freeze was almost as long as an earlier suspension in 2018 when China stopped approving new video game titles over a nine-month period as part of an overhaul of the regulatory bodies that oversee the sector.

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Reporting by Josh Ye Writing by Brenda Goh Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Chizu Nomiyama

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