China cuts minors’ time on online games to 3 hours per week

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On Monday, China went further in preventing gambling addiction among minors by reducing the time they can spend playing online games to just three hours a week.

Users under the age of 18 can only play online games from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and holidays, according to a document released by the National Press and Publishing Administration of China.

Registration and real name logins will be strictly enforced, the notice says, adding that companies cannot offer games to users who fail the identification process.

China has tightened controls on online games for children in recent years. In 2019, the country reduced time limits to 1.5 hours per day and three hours on weekends and holidays.

Earlier this month, the Economic Information Daily, affiliated with Xinhua, in an article called online games a “spiritual opium” that harms Chinese adolescents.

Tech giant Tencent, labeled as one of the “troublemakers” in the article, quickly pledged to push for tighter restrictions on teenage access to its flagship mobile game, “Honor of Kings ”.

The company said it would start with “Honor of Kings” to reduce the time teenagers spend playing video games and prohibit children under 12 from spending money on games.

On Tuesday, “Honor of Kings” said it would abide by the new rules, continuously improve anti-addiction measures and temporarily stop its standalone mode.

“Considering that the income contribution of adolescents from mobile games and online games is relatively small, it (the restriction) will not have a large impact on the performance of companies,” said Meng Lei, China Equity Strategist at UBS, in a conference call on Tuesday.

In the second quarter, players under the age of 16 made up 2.6% of Tencent’s gross domestic games revenue, according to the company.

NetEase, another Chinese internet company, which derives 70% of its revenue from online games, said users under the age of 18 made up less than 1% of its total gaming revenue.

“Right now, the data we estimate is that the financial impact (of the rules) is less than 1%,” NetEase CEO Ding Lei said on Tuesday in a conference call after the company released its second quarter performance.

“Most of the changes will be visible in traffic. For example, when the population of game users decreases, it may have a partial impact on the activity of game players,” Meng said, adding that the changes in the business valuation and profits “need to be measured more.”


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