China now limits minors’ gaming time to three hours a week, indicates anti-monopoly policies are forthcoming

    
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The Chinese government is introducing a significant crackdown on gaming for minors as state media has reported that children will only be allowed to play games for three hours a week on most weeks; online gaming specifically will be allowed only between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays. The new rules further mandate that all online games be linked to a state-run anti-addiction program, requires online gamers use their real names, and will empower regulators to increase checks over how gaming firms carry out restrictions on things like playing time and in-game purchases. Regulators will also reportedly work with parents and schools to combat a perceived addition to online gaming among China’s youth.

In addition to these new restrictions on play time, President Xi Jinping indicated during a committee meeting that there would be additional anti-monopoly policies meant to curtail the “disorderly expansion” of large tech and improve China’s economy.

Readers will recall that China’s tamping down of online gaming, especially for minors, has been an increasing focus of the country’s government, which in turn has had knock-on effects to Chinese gaming publishers. In the beginning of August, Tencent began imposing restrictions for minors on its games after state media referred to online games as “spiritual opium,” while that same article had a splash damage effect on Krafton’s IPO offering.

The current restrictions instituted by China have already begun to take their toll on the stocks of companies like Netease and Tencent, the latter of which saw its stock price tumble as much as 9.3% in pre-market trading in New York while Prosus NV, Tencent’s biggest shareholder, saw prices fall in Europe.

Further reading:

source: Bloomberg, cheers Anon!
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feleran

Google, Facebook etc are already banned in China. Maybe this online gaming ban (I cannot even call this a limitation) is also done for a similar reason – so minors could not communicate with “outside world” and learn how people live elsewhere?

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KoboldWhite

Indoctrination by soulless mega-corporations or indoctrination by soulless government – pick your poison.

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David Goodman

And this is the market that US companies are selling out to.

/eyeroll

And probably will continue to. Plenty of addicted ‘adults’ in China after all; game companies don’t need to hook them at an early age – it’s plenty easy enough to do so after the fact.

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Ken from Chicago

China is instituting anti-monopoly policies??? 🤔🤔🤔

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Schmidt.Capela

China doesn’t like monopolies, at least not inside China itself. A company with monopoly power could potentially challenge the government itself, and China is willing to preemptively strike to break the company’s hold on the market before the company even has the chance to use its monopoly power against the government.

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Ken from Chicago

Ah, okay, that makes sense (at least in understanding the motivations involved). Thanks.

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Jack Pipsam

This isn’t about games. This is about normalising stringent control of ones personal liberty from a young age.

Evil.

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Paragon Lost

Exactly my take on this as well. ☹

Fisty
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Fisty

Yup.

Turing fail
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Turing fail

More time for patriotic hacking!

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Rndomuser

LOL. A government pretending that they care about children, even though every rational person knows that children can bypass these restrictions by playing games under their parent’s accounts. Or by paying an adult to create “adult” account for them which would not be affected by these restrictions.

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John Mclain

Actually it’s far more difficult than that. Your thinking of how you’d circumvent these restrictions in the US or the EU. In China the entire internet is locked down and strictly controlled by the communist party. The government also controls the companies making the games with an iron fist. They force facial recognition to log into many games, and it checks regularly. Its not impossible to get around, but it’s as close as you can get without a communist soldier standing in a room holding the kid at gunpoint with a stopwatch.

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Schmidt.Capela

Of note, Tencent said that even before those restrictions less than 3% of its Chinese revenue came from minors. Also, this doesn’t seem to affect offline gaming.

In other words, I expect this to change little to nothing in the short term, apart from pushing minors towards offline games, likely without microtransactions. The threat to the industry is that if this policy is kept for years it could lead to a whole generation whose members are either used to the value proposition of offline games or not used to gaming at all.

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Rndomuser

apart from pushing minors towards offline games

You mean, something like offline gambling ;-) I remember back when I used to go to school, most children did not have any electronic games at this time in that country (because they were very expensive, even something like NES clones), however they still did things like playing card games such as poker and similar offline games where they used real life money for betting, right in school or after school, even though this wasn’t really something that was allowed by adults.

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Schmidt.Capela

card games such as poker

Funny thing, poker is strictly forbidden in China. You can even be banned from social media there for discussing poker.

In fact, the only legal gambling in mainland China is a pair of government-run lotteries (and a few ancillary gambling methods such as scratch cards, operated by the same state-owned companies that run the lotteries); other kinds of gambling are considered crimes, and citizens found gambling can potentially be even sentenced to forced labor, though the usual punishment is just a fine.

(I’m not sure how gambling in the islands of Macau and Hong Kong fits there; from what I’ve read, it seems like it’s legal for Chinese citizens to gamble in Macau’s and Hong Kong’s casinos. In fact, Macau has a larger gambling revenue than even the Las Vegas Strip.)

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Rndomuser

Just because something is forbidden doesn’t mean people do not do it. I had some friends who traveled to China frequently for trade purposes (China is a huge supplier of all kind of products to Russia), they told me local population does plenty of illegal things, especially when no one can monitor or care to monitor their offline activities.

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traja

This depends on how the law is worded. It’s difficult to cheat in console games so microtransactions are doable even if the game is offline most of the time. It just has to connect briefly to handle the transactions.

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Bannex

While I recognize that games are terrible for minors. They’re terrible in general as far as an addiction goes. I can’t help but wonder what the point of humanity is without freedom.

The CCP isn’t ignorant to the pitfalls of video games and the devious ways they’re developed in order to extort the brain’s reward pathways. They’re also not ignorant to the value these games have in collecting a huge amount of data.

They’re going to continue making games as addictive and malicious as possible for the international market while “protecting” their own citizens. The international community truly needs to wake up and stop operating solely on greed.

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Syran

It will be interesting to see whether this is going to affect game design at all, especially for companies owned by Tencent or otherwise highly invested in the chinese market. Maybe games like Genshin Impact are going to have less dailies and more weeklies?