China Limits Online Gaming for Minors to One Hour a Day on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays

Image: Screen Post (Pexels)

Younger gamers in China better make their online gaming count, as they’re going to be doing a lot less of it.

As relayed by the country’s local media watchdog, the National Press and Publication Administration (NAAP), China has decided to implement new rules that severely limit the amount of online gaming that Tencent Holdings Ltd. and other platforms can provide Chinese youth per week.

Going forward, minors (those under 18) will only be able to access online games from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays.

That’s already arguably excessive in itself, but what’s even worse is that Chinese youth will only be able to play one hour per day on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. That equates to just three hours of online gaming per week.

China’s decision stems from a campaign to control the expansion of large tech companies and the addictive effect that online gaming is said to have on the country’s youth.

The new rules include the following key points:

  • All online games should be linked to a state anti-addiction system, and companies can’t provide services to users without real-name registrations
  • Regulators will ratchet up checks over how gaming firms carry out restrictions on things like playing time and in-game purchases
  • Regulators will work with parents, schools and other members of the society to combat youth gaming addiction

Analysts have pointed out that China’s decision effectively prevents gaming platforms from making any money off of minors, while others argue that the new restrictions are much too severe.

“This ruling is the strictest one to date and will essentially wipe out most spending from minors, which we note was already extremely low,” said Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at Niko Partners.

“Three hours per week is too tight,” added Steven Leung, an executive director at UOB Kay Hian (Hong Kong) Ltd. “I thought regulatory measures would take a break gradually, but it’s not stopping at all. It will hurt the nascent tech rebound for sure.”

Image: Xinhua News Agency

Tencent and other companies have said children account for only a fraction of their businesses, especially after recent restrictions. The country’s largest games company has said the revenue from minors yields less than 3 percent of its gross gaming receipts in China.

Sources: Bloomberg, SCMP

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