(Refiles to fix name of consultancy to Niko Partners in paragraph 5)
SHANGHAI, April 20 (Reuters) - China's press and publication regulator has issued new rules on applications for publishing online games in China, signalling a possible acceleration in the handing out of formal approvals.
China stopped granting licences to monetize online games in March 2018, hurting the industry and developers such as Tencent Holdings Ltd and NetEase Inc. It started up approvals again in December, only to ask local governments to pause on submitting applications in February.
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television released the new rules late on Friday.
Under the guidelines, games will undergo content vetting and the number of games allowed on to the market will be controlled.
Gaming market research and consulting firm Niko Partners said the administration had explained the new rules to industry insiders earlier in the month, saying it was grinding through a backlog of applications submitted last year.
Chinese gaming publishers were being encouraged to develop titles with China's "core social values" in mind, including games that promote traditional culture, Niko said.
Niko said the administration would take new submissions from Monday, April 22, under the new application process.
"With a new more transparent approval process set to go live soon, we have a positive outlook for China's digital games market in 2019," it said. (Reporting by John Ruwitch and Li Pei; Editing by Nick Macfie)