Tencent to limit children’s game time

Massive Chinese conglomerate Tencent sets out to limit children’s game time on Honour of King’s, using never before seen real-life identification system.

Children will have limited game time starting mid-September

Reuters published an article on 6 September 2018, reporting on a recent development in the Chinese gaming market. In a message posted on Tencent’s official WeChat account, the company will limit Chinese children’s play time on the Honour of Kings game starting from 15 September 2018.

Supposedly, the Chinese company will accomplish this by integrating a new real-name system to identify younger players. It, in turn, will be linked to China’s public security database using which authorities will be able to intervene. This system will be used to impose play restrictions on young players. More specifically, children under 12 years will only be allowed to play for one hour, while older kids up 18 years of age will have a maximum of two.

This limit system will first be imposed on Honour of Kings, the most popular mobile game in China. It is meant to combat gaming addiction in children, to which they are supposedly at high risk.

Immediate and potential effects of the new system

The news did not go unnoticed and Tencent saw a substantial dive in the price of shares, falling 3% in a single day. Whether investors harbor a moral dislike for the Orwellian approach or do not wish to see their stock dividend fall, it is clear that the market does not approve of this new system.

The implementation of this technology will be a first in the gaming industry, be it mobile, desktop or console gaming. Certain games deemed ‘addictive’ have had parental controls which would allow a parent to limit their children’s game time, for example, Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. However, this is the first time that companies have directly meddled in user’s gaming, not speak of ingraining the system with government agencies.

If this system receives the desired effects, it could make its way into mainstream gaming. What the outcome of such a scenario would be is hard to predict, though it could be detrimental to China’s eSports scene.

Still, some people may have seen something like this coming. Gaming addiction is a widespread phenomenon among certain Asian countries, South Korea and China, to name a few. Over the years, countless reports have surfaced detailing how players have died from sheer exhaustion after continuously gaming for multiple days on end. Some might say that these measures could not have come sooner, considering that many mobile games use unabashedly predatory tactics at children’s expense to make a profit.

However, one cannot argue that this type of system is not intrusive. It could set a dangerous precedent for the future and the gaming industry could suffer an immense blow as a result of it. Moreover, China’s is also one of the largest PC gaming markets in the world, estimated at about $15.5 billion in 2017, while its mobile gaming industry is also growing at a remarkable rate, estimated to be at $16 billion in 2017. These figures do not even account for the console market, which has started to develop since the ban on video game consoles was lifted in 2015.

Source: Tencent launches new checks to weed out underage gaming amid China crackdown

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