- China has announced a curfew for online gamers aged under 18 years to curb video gaming addiction in the country.
- Other guidelines restrict the amount minors will be able to spend on their gaming accounts and the introduction of a real-name registration system.
- Regulators will be closely monitoring how gaming companies comply with the new rules, which come after a licensing freeze was lifted only earlier in the year.
China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has issued a new Circular about Preventing the Minors from Online Game Addictions.
Six new measures have been proposed to prevent teenagers from getting addicted to video games and will control the time and money spent by underage gamers. Further, a real-name registration system will be created to check the identity of gamers against the national database.
Previously, in March 2018, China had introduced a licensing freeze on monetizing online games. The government ended the approvals ban in December 2018 before reinstating it in February this year when local authorities were asked to stop submitting applications. The regulator said it was “making adjustments” at the time.
China was the world’s largest gaming market in 2018 with an estimated 620 million gamers, generating about US$38 billion in revenue – out of which 60 percent came from mobile games. In the first half of 2018, China accounted for 26.1 percent of global revenues in this industry space.
According to a report last year, there are more than 800 million netizens in China and over 98 percent are smartphone users. Mobile games and PC games are the primary type of products in China’s gaming market, and account for 66 percent and 28.5 percent of revenues, respectively.
New measures target young online gamers
The new measures specifically target youth online gaming. It bans users aged under 18 years from playing online games between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Minors will be able to play for only 1.5 hours on weekdays, and a maximum of three hours per day on weekends and public holidays.
The government is also targeting the profitable segment of online microtransactions. Gamers aged between eight and 16 years will only be able to add up to RMB 200 (US$29) per month into their account. Gamers between 16 and 18 years old will be able to top up a maximum of RMB 400 (US$57).
A real-name registration system or “unified identification system” is also in the works, which will allow regulators to check the identity of users with the national database. Users will be required to register their accounts with their real name and phone number.
Crackdown on gaming industry is ongoing
The crackdown on China’s highly lucrative gaming industry continues as regulators have been given ample leeway. The latest guidelines follow rules issued on April 19 this year, which witnessed a greater role for the propaganda department.
According to media reports, China’s gaming rules also target adult users who are prohibited from playing games with content depicting “sexual explicitness, goriness, violence and gambling.”
Commenting on the newest measures, the GAPP said it wanted to clean up China’s internet space and “protect the physical and mental health of minors.” While stressing on the responsibilities of gaming corporations like Tencent, regulators are not shying away from near-constant supervision of the industry.
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