China’s Ministry of Culture has begun a new crackdown on the marketing of online games as it has pledged to ban the use of sex, violence and gambling in the promotion of titles.

The government agency, which is responsible for censorship of media and entertainment, issued a noticed this week requiring the monitoring of “vulgar marketing” of online games. The agency said it would “criticize and educate” entrepreneurs who promote their cyber games through profane and violent ads, according to China Daily.

The new rule evidently came after a controversy around particular games. The online game Dahua Xuanyuan became a hit in December after the company hired a famous art model, Zhang Xiaoyu, as its spokesperson. That seems fairly tame, but it started a trend that climaxed on June 17, when Shanghai-based game developer hired Sola Aoi, a Japanese adult video star, as its spokesmodel for the game Warrior OL.

The regulation is expected to take effect on Aug. 1. According to market researcher Niko Partners, China’s online game industry is expected to generate $4.5 billion in revenues in 2010.

[photo: China Daily’s picture of game spokesmodel Shou Shou]