Biz / Tech

National scheme to prevent game addiction

Zhu Shenshen
Some players and companies not abiding by current rules, an official tells a meeting on the first day of Asia's biggest game fair ChinaJoy held in Shanghai.
Zhu Shenshen

China is to further restrict time and money spent by children and young people on games from September with the introduction of a national anti-addiction scheme, an industry regulator said during a ChinaJoy forum on Thursday. 

China has already had a system in place for games requiring players’ real identities to protect children under the age of 18 but some players and companies were not strictly abiding by its requirements, said Feng Shixin, deputy director of the Central Publicity Department’s bureau of publications.

“We are accelerating the construction of the national real-name authentication system. It will go online gradually from September and relevant enterprises are requested to actively cooperate,” Feng told the opening summit of Asia’s biggest game fair.

Details of the new scheme are not immediately available.

Tencent, the country’s biggest game firm, upgraded its anti-addiction measures in June, with new technologies such as facial recognition and parental controls, said Wang Bo, its corporate vice president. 

Tencent has adopted the system in popular games such as Honor of Kings and League of Legends, Wang told the forum. 

Under current rules, anyone under 18 is not allowed to log onto games between 10pm and 8am, and are limited to a maximum playing time of 90 minutes a day except for public holidays, when they can play for up to three hours. The system will also limit in-game expenditure to 200 and 400 yuan (US$29 to US$57) a month, based on whether players are under or over 8 years old.

The system, which previously raised concerns about game firms’ profitability and income, has been widely accepted. Offsetting the impact of the anti-addiction system, China’s gaming industry regained double-digit growth in the first half and regulators accelerated the game publication approval process.

In the first half of the year, China’s game revenue jumped 20 percent year on year to 140 billion yuan, according to the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association.

China has approved 779 games for the domestic market this year, half among them from small and medium-sized enterprises, Feng told the forum. 

“My colleagues are trying their best to approve new games during the pandemic,” said Feng. 

Senior executives from Tencent, NetEase, Perfect World, Qualcomm, Shengqu Games and 360 Game attended the forum.

ChinaJoy is open to the public through Monday at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in the Pudong New Area.

There are around 400 exhibitors, with more than 4,000 games and smart devices on display.

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