Tencent Imposes Age-Based Gaming Restrictions to Curb Addiction

As we’ve written time and time again, China is deeply concerned with video game addiction, in particular the potential for children to become addicted to games. The newest move in game addiction prevention comes from corporate giant Tencent, who will be imposing play limits on their game, Honour of Kings*, based on age. The new regulations will limit players under 12 years old to one hour of play per day, and they will not be able to play after 9pm. Players between 12 and 17 years old will be limited to two hours of play a day, and future limitations on how much money young players can spend are also being considered.

Honour of Kings is the highest grossing game worldwide, and has 200 million registered users and as many as 70 million active players per day according to the Esports Observer. More than half of its users are under 24 years old, and more than a quarter are below 19 years old. In order to enforce their new regulations, Tencent will be requiring real-name registration from users. Some of their games already require Chinese ID numbers to register, but this is the first time a game has used your personal information in this way. Accounts without real-name registration will be treated as being below-12 years old, Tencent said.

On their official WeChat account, Tencent wrote, “There are no rules to prevent indulgence in mobile games in China, but we decided to be the first to try to dispel parental worries by limiting play time and forcing children to log off.” They are not concerned that this move will affect their shares or profit, and told Reuters, “(Those) under 12 years old constitute a small proportion of our total user base and a smaller percentage of our paying user base. We do not expect these measures will have a material impact on our overall financial results.”

To be clear, Tencent was not asked by the government to implement regulations on their games. However, with the criticism the game has received regarding its “addictive nature”, Tencent might just be getting ahead of government action, which could force them into harsher guidelines, or into changing the nature of their game.

Honour of Kings is a MOBA-type game like League of Legends and Defense of the Ancients, but it’s played on mobile phones. It has a lively esports scene, with the 2016 King Pro League watched by over 70 million people, and is one of the most watched games on videogame streaming sites Douyu and Huya.

The primary concern among players, however, is that Tencent might spread these limitations to their other games—such as League of Legends, CrossFire, or Dungeon Fighter Online.

*Honor of Kings (王者荣耀) also goes by the English name Kings of Glory

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