Young online game fans in China are going to be facing some new restrictions from Tencent-operated games. That’s in response to an article from the Chinese newspaper Economic Information Daily (EID), an affiliate of the country’s state-run Xinhua news agency, which called the company’s mobile MOBA Honor of Kings “spiritual opium.”
“‘Spiritual opium’ has grown into an industry worth hundreds of billions. […] No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation,” read part of the article.
The article actually caused Tencent’s shares to tumble to the point the company lost $60B in market value. Hours after the EID article was printed, the company announced that it would be introducing new limitations for children under 12 years old, including a prohibition against spending money in the game, and time restrictions from 1.5 hours to 1 hour on non-holidays and from 3 hours to 2 hours on holidays, starting with Honor of Kings.
For context, the subject of opium and its addictive properties is a sensitive subject for China, considering the substance’s history in the country, which escalated to the point that two wars were fought over the drug. Additionally, EID reposted the article with a significantly less aggressive tone, calling for authorities, game developers, and families to work together to combat addiction to online games in young children.