China will further limit the weekly hours that children can spend playing video games. Previously, children up to 12 years old could play up to one hour a day or up to two hours in the case of children between 13 and 18 years old. The new restrictions, which come into effect on September 1st, mean that minors can only play between 8 pm and 9 pm on Fridays, weekends, and holidays.
That’s three hours a week, except on weeks where there are holidays. Another novelty is that the Chinese government is now obliging companies to implement an identity verification system. Therefore it will only be possible to have an account associated with a real name, limiting “gaps” in the system.
The new rules, tighten restrictions from 2019 aiming at what the government said was a growing scourge of online game addiction among schoolchildren. Under the old rules, players under the age of 18 were limited to no more than 90 minutes of gaming on weekdays and three hours a day on weekends. Curiously, parents had complained that was too generous and had been laxly enforced, the administration said. The government said it would step up inspections to ensure that gaming companies were enforcing the restrictions.
The new policies are very strict and can put away foreign companies
Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at Nyko Partners and an expert on the Asian video game market, said on Twitter there are currently about 110 million minors in China who are gamers. Tencent, one of China’s biggest companies and a major investor in the international video game market, says players under 16 in China represent 2.6% of its total player base. Overall, the economic impact of these restrictions will not be significant. However, the Chinese government’s stringent measures could deter future investments by foreign publishers.
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The previous policy was 1.5 hours a day, so this is an extreme change and comes at a time when South Korea has just overturned its own shutdown law.
Minors will be restricted at the account level using the existing real name registration and anti-addiction system.
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) August 30, 2021
This is a huge change for players under the 13. However, the big concern here is related to the Chinese government applying restrictions on players. Especially when the Chinese Market of Games is becoming one of the most important in the world. Tencent so far is one of the most popular studios in the world of games. The company is behind some of the most popular mobile game publishers. Moreover, it is gearing up to make big investments in the PC and Console segment. There are other popular studios such as NetEase that also have popular franchises in the mobile scene. They can have their reputation stained. Seeing how the Chinese government is trying to impose rules on players, can prevent foreign companies from investing in the country’s companies.