Tencent is expanding draconian ‘healthy gaming’ child blocks across all of its titles

    
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Oof. If you thought RealID was a bad call, point your eyeballs at China, where Tencent has announced it will expand its existing “addiction-prevention” system across all of its titles.

MMO players will recall that last year, Tencent implemented what are effectively child locks on its outrageously popular MOBA Honour of Kings (aka Arena of Valor), blocking children under 18 from playing more than a few hours a day. Those locks were reportedly put in place to avoid regulation from the Chinese government, which has in 2018 been refusing to approve new games in the region at all. Earlier this year, the company followed those measures up with a real-name registration system and facial-recognition test.

Reuters now reports that Tencent has announced it’ll bring that “healthy gaming” system to nine of its other games by the end of the year, with full implementation across all of its titles in 2019.

The company has lost 28% of its stock value this year alone as it bleeds expected revenue, unable to monetize its new games in the region thanks to China’s crackdown.

Source: Reuters via GIbiz

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kgptzac

Shall we celebrate that we neither are minors nor we live in China?

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rafael12104

Wow, so much to unpack here. I’ll try and be brief.

Ok. So first, this is just sad. It bumbs me out that an entire country is buckling down to what amounts to hysteria over video games by a few well-placed government officials. Hysteria because it is an overreaction based on fear over unsubstantiated, almost imaginary, conclusions.

The politics of fear are dangerous. The irrational becomes reasonable. The logical irrelevant.

And that is where they are. Look, I don’t care that they are communist. I’m not a fan of communism for so many reasons but I will spare you the treatise. Yet in this case, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because what is taking hold is an irrational response to fear and that can happen to any form of government (Immigrant Caravan, anyone?). Fear is the mind killer.

Tencent is not my fave company, but I understand their actions. There is no recourse in China but to capitulate. It’s either that or fold. Fighting the good fight nets you a stay in a prison camp among other things.

Sadly, Blizz/Activision, EA, and gang should be afraid too. That giant wad of money they may have been counting on in their earnings projections will be going away. They will have to earn it the old fashion way without the fast food.

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Koshelkin

Not sure if this is a bad thing. On one hand you could argue that the state shouldn’t have such a big influence on the personal lives of its population, on the other hand children under 18 really shouldn’t play more than a couple of hours per day.

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Jack Pipsam

Okay so let’s say a kid is in some kind of horrific accident (car crash for example) and has to stay at home for a few weeks from school while they recover, perhaps they’re unable to move much or maybe they’ve even lost the use of their legs.

Playing a video game might the one of the few chances of escaping their horrible reality for a few hours as it is, maybe playing online with their friends can help regain some of the social aspects of their social-life being drastically reduced suddenly.

Now imagine that kid is only allowed two hours a day because the government said it’s bad. Perhaps an insult to injury will be a friendly message from Winnie-the-Pooh telling the kid to go outside and play instead of spending all day inside.

Extreme example? Yes. But I think it’s a good example of why rigid rules on how people can consume basic entertainment in their homes shouldn’t be dictated by the government, but up the parents. Each person is different, each situation is different.
Humans are individuals and should be treated as such. Just my opinion anyway.

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Armsbend

Then China still doesn’t want him addicted to video games. China is okay with legless boy reading books or doing any number of things that people without legs can do.

If I know a guy permanently in a wheelchair wants morphine I’m not giving it to him just because he can’t use his legs. I still don’t want my wheelchair bound friend addicted to morphine – regardless of his personal struggles.

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Jack Pipsam

But it seems the assumption being made here is that any kid playing a game for more than 10 minutes is somehow addicted.
If that same kid spent the entire day reading (Chinese approved books of course), then by the same logic, he/she would be is ‘addicted’ to books. Which when one of the excuses for draconian rules is that it causes eye-strain, well it’s the exact same for books than a screen.
This is of course is treating the victim as a resource, not a human to be compassionate for.

Being addicted to games (or really game compulsion to be semantic) is a specific thing and sure it’s an issue, but is the solution to every problem to allow the government to dictate every tiny aspect of life? Because that’s the plan for China with their social-credit system and these rules.

The perfect citizen, you know, this kind of thing used to be the realm of fiction.

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Armsbend

I’m not going to make that argument – that is for China to decide. And here they are, in their constrictive government, making their own choices without interference from the West – as is their divine right to do.

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Dobablo

That isn’t healthy. Kids need to be playing a variety of games from different developers to grow a wide range of skills and interests, not focus all their time into a single obsession.

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Jack Pipsam

10:00 AM – RTS
11:30 AM – Card Game
12:00 PM – *Lunch Break*
1:00 PM – FPS
2:00 PM -FPS (Battle Royal)
4:00 PM – MMO

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Michael18

No jump ‘n runs, no text or point’n click adventures, no RPGs. Irresponsible people like you are accountable for the sorry state of today’s younger generation!

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Leiloni

That’s the parents decision, not the state.

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Arktouros

I’m still 100% convinced Diablo Immortal is entirely about the Chinese mobile market and NetEase’s involvement is entirely there to help Blizzard navigate through Chinese law (even if those laws have turned into a 100% lock down). A game announcement gives them plenty of time to meet China’s governmental standards and simultaneously develop them at the time of game development rather than having to take an existing product and update it which is the big problem Tencent is in currently.

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Dantos

It probably was initially, but the 100% lockdown threw a monkey wrench in those plans, so they might be trying to at least try to market it to the west the best they can as a stopgap until China opens up again.

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Arktouros

See I don’t think they really did throw a wrench in the plans. China’s “Ministry of Culture” (yikes) seems to have very specific guidelines of what it expects to see in games before they allow monetization. But that process was taking a year to take effect. It also means games that companies like TenCent were all set to monetize now have to go back and get changed to meet requirements and then go through that approval process all while losing potential revenue. Blizzard on the other hand is early in development, can accommodate whatever 1984 level monitoring, identity checks and presumably tracking mechanisms (for social credit, of course) into place.

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bobfish

The Ministry of Culture used to run the approval process, it has now transferred to the Ministry of Propaganda, which is why it is on hold.

Under the MoC, there were no guidelines, there still aren’t. It was up to your personal connections, the popularity of your company within the political system, the nature of your game and the person who was doing the reviewing. It was a complete mess and no one, not even Tencent, could figure out how to actually make a game that would definitely be approved.

The current thought is, that the MoP is going to create actual guidelines, which may turn out to be fairly harsh given what else they have been doing these last few years, but at least then companies will know what they need to do to get games approved.

Diablo has significant challenges in China regardless, because a lot of its setting are problematic, the undead for example is a real problem in China culturally, not just with the government. Blizzard had to make significant changes to World of Warcraft to get it approved there back in the day and that was before the government took gaming seriously.

And Diablo Immortal is also further along in development than you think, Blizzard don’t announce games that are far out. Whilst Netease has been their partner for many years, they also don’t have any special way to get games approved, so they will be hedging their bets a little here. Hoping that by the time the approval process starts again that they can adapt quickly, but also they may plan to launch it everywhere else in the meantime to make sure they make some money.

That ultimately is the biggest problem with China right now, nothing has been approved since March, so no one is making money on anything released since then, they are turning to the global markets to make money until something improves in China. Hence why a lot of Chinese PC games are turning up on Steam, when before there was nearly nothing there.

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Armsbend

Could be – all the more curious the big announce to an entirely NA market at the biggest event of the year.

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Arktouros

I still see the NA announcement as an experiment. They knew it was going to go badly. Like you can’t be that fucking stupid or bad at your job. They knew. They just didn’t know how badly it was going to go and now they have their answer. Now they know. Because it’s unlikely the end of their mobile announcements in the future and now they have a baseline of where to go with those.

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Armsbend

Seems like you are overthinking it. I really don’t think they are that clever. I think they thought they’d get much fanfare, because they have lost touch, and it backfired.

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Jack Pipsam

Gross!
I would hate to live in a place like China, that level of control is disgusting.
And you just know that it won’t stop at kids, whatever they get away with one group of people could easily expand.

I feel so sorry for the people of Hong Kong, that level of looming dominance threatening to take over everything must be horrific.

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Zora

China is there to remind us what is likely to happen when you ask a state to regulate videogames thinking “of the children” :P

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Arktouros

China is exactly what I think of every time people complain about lock boxes and ask for government regulation. People sitting there screaming “think of the children” or “think of the poor addicts” and they don’t realize that’s a whole can of worms when it comes to government. Why would the government stop at lock boxes when you have countries who are looking at the games themselves being addictive?

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Nathan Aldana

Theres the thing though. What if the games are actually addictive?

Humans are fucking notoriuosly bad at self control or not acting self-destructively.

Thats not defending the lengths china goes to, thats simply sdaying that “freedoooom”taken to the point of anarchy also has just as good a track record of getting innocent people killed.

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Arktouros

Basically that questions where the line of what’s the role of your government in protecting it’s citizens.

Personally I’m a firm believer that a government’s role is protecting it’s citizens from external sources of destruction (IE: other governments and other citizens within the government) and that’s it. So outlawing smoking in public areas like restaurants etc? Great. Outlawing smoking period because it’s a self destructive habit? No thanks.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

Well, I’d throw in there maintaining the infrastructure like highways, bridges and dams so I don’t die from a bridge collapsing or the dam failing. Regulating food safety so I’m not poisoned by profiteers. Oh, and stuff like net neutrality so the mega-corps can’t throttle me. That sort of thing. But it’s late and I may not be thinking straight.

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Robert Mann

Exactly. Government has two purposes:

Doing things that are too big and important to be done without government (aka, highway system) and protecting people from outside sources.

Sadly, those two things seem like the last and least considerations of actual governments…

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Jack Pipsam

That’s my line of thinking. The government should be focused on big-picture things the average person cannot control.

The environment, food protection, public safety, national defence, corporate/bank regulation, protection of human rights (not infringing them). The building and proper maintenance of Infrastructure. Health Care for all, reasonable attempts to foster equality and give help to those without much. Basic. Human. Rights. The foundation of which any self-declared developed country should strive for. And if the government cannot do these, then the people can vote (peacefully) to put someone else in. Accountability.

Does this work? Not as well as it should. But compared to places like China, Democracy is as fair as unfair gets. We can do better, we must do better. We have many issues of our own. Australia on a statistical basis is leading in many areas, one the best places to live according to many charts, but living here I know that we’re deeply flawed in many aspects (especially how we treat those trying to come here for that better life). But not being perfect ourselves doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out abuse on a global scale.

The same way we call out the gun violence in America, people should call us out for our treatment of asylum seekers. We should be called out for our treatment of the environment just as much as we call out others on the same topic.

Each nation is sovereign, I respect that, I certainly don’t believe we have the right to go in and force nations to do anything just because it conflicts with our world-view. But when there is such an infringement of rights in places like China, turning a blind eye isn’t helpful.

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McGuffn

If anarchy is sitting in a room playing videogames I don’t see what the fuss is about.

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A Dad Supreme

It’s easy to say that Zora but, just think of the children!

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Armsbend

This is where Blizzard is putting all of its chips. In a country that can snap its fingers and make your game, about the devil himself, disappear with no recourse. Brilliant move Blizzard.

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Moose_Jaw26

Please elaborate on how Blizzard is putting all their chips in here? They are making a mobile game, thats the not the same as abandoning PC and going all in on mobile.

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Armsbend

Sure. Blizzard has a bare pipeline. Their only annoucement was a redo of an old game and a chinese cash shop game.

What else would you like to know at this time?

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Moose_Jaw26

Lol you actually think those are the only 2 things they are working on? People love to be outraged just for the sake of being outraged. I guess if you dont have that mob to join then you have nothing.

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Armsbend

Not outraged at all. I haven’t touched a Diablo game in 2 or 3 years and have no intent on ever booting one up again. Why bother we have a better company hard at work on Path of Exile – I believe they will continue to outplay Blizzard for years to come.

I am intrigued by inept companies. Most would kill their own kids to have Blizzard’s fan loyalty. But some companies get so greed they are blinded by profits. they lose sight of what is right in front of them – all for an easy buck. Bucks are easy to come by. Fan loyalty is not. Trion has a lot to say about that certain phenomena.

Outrage? No. I do relish watching companies suffer when they ignore the needs of the people who allowed them to succeed. Blizzard is only where they are today by the whims of their customers. If those whims suddenly vanish – POOF! so does Blizzard.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

Spending money on video games also causes a black mark on your social credit score in China, so they are really pushing on the “no fun” front.

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Armsbend

I wonder what my social credit score would be? A free stay in a re-education camp? I hope they have ping-pong tables!

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Zora

FREE?! You have to work 14hours shifts to earn your meal in here, comrade…

That was jest to see if you laugh like capitalist dog. There is no meals, really.

*laughs in gulag*

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Armsbend


I hate when there is a catch.

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Hirku

I would appear as Goldstein’s sidekick during the Two Minutes Hate. ; P

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Leiloni

What is a “social” credit score?

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Armsbend

China has created initiative to give people a score on how they act. Simple things like waiting for the crosswalk signal. Do bad get penalized. Like a game! But you lose 100% of the time!

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/china-social-credit

Dantos
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Dantos

Basically how good of an ideal Chinese citizen you are. Extra Credits did a video on it a while back https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHcTKWiZ8sI&vl=en

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Jack Pipsam

It’s a creepy system where you get points for “good behaviour” which can affect many things in your life, from what train tickets you book, where you can eat ect. Basically toe the party line on a public, quantifiable scale.

Here’s a recent episode of Foreign Correspondent on the subject – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eViswN602_k
(I hope it isn’t geo-blocked outside of Australia).

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DeadlyAccurate

Wasn’t that an episode of Black Mirror?

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Jack Pipsam

I wish it was.

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Mr.McSleaz

Yep, but this waaaaay Worse. Your bad acts will affect your friends and family. China has 200,000,000 Closed circuit cameras in place for the testing of this system with plans to triple that to 600,000,000 by 2020 when the system goes Live.
Bill Gates on the other hand doesn’t need closed circuit cameras. He’s putting 500 4k satellites into orbit so that every inch of the Earth is under 24hr surveillance to Monitor “Animal Migrations & Weather Patterns”, If you believe that reasoning then I have a Bridge to sell you.

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imayb1

Not geo-blocked and a good documentary piece. :)

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Jack Pipsam

I’m glad ^_^
Some ABC stuff is geo-blocked, but perhaps their news/documentary/current affair stuff is all open globally due to it not being broadcast anywhere else really, so it’s a public resource. Good to know!

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Mr.McSleaz

Are you for real?
You REALLY need to read more. This is common knowledge at this point.
It should also be noted that GOOGLE is the company designing the software for this Evil Super-Commie system.

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Armsbend

It isn’t common knowledge for all people. Google is not designing the social score. You may be confusing that story with Google designing a separate search engine/algo for their main product in China. Which they are adjusting according to Chinese law.

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Utakata

“Reuters now reports that Tencent has announced it’ll bring that ‘healthy gaming’ system to nine of its other games by the end of the year, with full implementation across all of its titles in 2019.”

(Note: Emphasis is mine.)

Doublespeak: “language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth”

Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/doublespeak