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Gaming stocks fall after media report of increased user addiction

Ding Yining
Comparing online video games to 'electronic drugs,' report cites study of daily activity by 2,000 students.
Ding Yining
Gaming stocks fall after media report of increased user addiction

The prices of Hong Kong and domestic listed gaming companies fell after an Economic Information Daily report claimed minors and high school students are becoming increasingly addicted to mobile games. 

The report pointed out that no industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation, and compared online video games to "electronic drugs."

According to a survey by the publication of nearly 2,000 high school students in Luzhou, Sichuan Province, 54 percent of them spend one to two hours every day on games, and Honor of Kings is the most popular.

The report cited social science academics as saying that indulging in gaming would bring adverse psychological effects to minors and named Tencent and NetEase as the two biggest companies with a dominant market share.

The prevalence of smartphones and the convenience of mobile Internet access has made it harder to limit minors from playing games, the report said. 

Tencent fell 6.11 percent and NetEase sank 7.77 percent against a dip of 0.16 percent in the Hang Seng Index on Tuesday.

Tencent said on Tuesday it will further enhance measures to prevent minors from spending excessive time on gaming. In a statement, Tencent Games said it will further cut the amount of hours minors spend on gaming, down from 1.5 hours to 1 hour on workdays and from 3 hours to 2 hours on weekends.

It is set to start trial measures with its top mobile game title, Honor of Kings, and will gradually extend it to other games.

Tencent Games said it has been increasing anti-addiction measures for minors since 2017 and applies restrictive methods to 5.8 million accounts on an average day. Those aged under 12 will be banned from making in-game purchases.

It will also step up spot checks on minors who use adults' ID authentication to play games and will demand a separate authentication process for all suspicious accounts.

According to the Game Publishing Committee of China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association, the gaming market grew 7.89 percent to 150.5 billion yuan in the first half this year, with a user base of 667 million.

Tencent last month started to use a face recognition system to prevent minors from playing video games late into the night.
Mobile data consultancy Questmobile estimates the smartphone games user base to have reached 548 million by June, with average time spent per month of over 20 hours, and over 13 percent of paying gamers being aged under 18.

Domestic listed game firms also sank on Tuesday. Wuhu 37 Interactive Entertainment Network Technology Group fell 5.6 percent. G-bits Network Technology retreated 3.7 percent and Perfect World Co sank 5.29 percent. Hangzhou Shunwang Tech fell 12.5 percent.

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