On June 3, 2010, the Ministry of Culture (MOC) issued a regulation called Tentative Rule on Administration of Online Game (the Rule). The new Rule highlights that online game players should register their real names before participating in virtual competitions in cyberspace.
This Rule applies to development and operation of online game, issuance of virtual currency for online game as well as virtual currency transaction service.
The companies which want to engage in operation of online game, issuance of virtual currency and virtual currency transaction service shall obtain a license from MOC in the provincial level. And a registered capital of at least RMB 10 million is required for such license.
Imported online game shall be screened and approved by MOC before its operation in China. And according to the Rule, only online game company in China who obtains exclusive license for the imported online game is qualified to file application to MOC for approval.
The Rule also requires online game companies to establish a self-censorship mechanism and ensure the lawfulness of the content of their games and the corporate operations.
Internet users who want to play a particular online game must go though a real-name registration process with valid identifications and the online game company shall keep the registration information.
Preventing minors from becoming addicted to online games is highlighted in the regulation, which forbids online game providers from offering unsuitable games to minors. Also, minors are not allowed to handle virtual currency.
With regard to the issuance of virtual currency, the Rule requests virtual currency can only be used for the online game product and service. It shall not be used to purchase other goods and service. And all users’ purchase record shall be kept for at least 180 days.
The regulation, which is the first official document focusing on China's thriving online gaming industry, will become effective on Aug 1, 2010.
The measure came after the number of China's online game players skyrocketed to 105 million as of April, according to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the State Internet administrator.