Chinese authorities issued detailed regulations on Monday stipulating that minors can no longer play mobile games for more than three hours per week. The new rules follow previous commentary of video games being “spiritual opium” and that “excessive indulgence” must be curbed.
The new restrictions, issued by the National Press and Public Administration (NPPA), state that people under the age of 18 can only spend one hour per day on mobile games on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays. Play time will run from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Game companies are barred from providing online game services to minors beyond this period.
This is a stricter regimen than previously outlined. In 2019, the NPPA said minors can spend three hours on games during public holidays, and no more than 1.5 hours on school days. This year, in June, the administration banned minors from playing games between 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
Under the new rules, video game publishers must verify the age and identity of each player. An NPPA spokesperson said to Xinhua that video game companies must bear more responsibility in eliminating game addiction, and social benefits must be the top priority.
“Minors are the future of our homeland,” the spokesperson said. “Protecting their mental and physical health is cultivating the new generation of our rejuvenation.”
The tight restrictions follow a slew of crackdowns on companies whose services are utilized by children, including after-school education providers and video game firms. The Chinese government sees this as a move to create a “healthier” environment for younger generations.
The state believes excessive after-school tutoring creates too much pressure for students and their families, so the industry has been reined in. Meanwhile, video game addiction is a serious matter for some players in China.
But young gamers still have a few tricks to finagle a longer playtime. Some people commented on Weibo that minors can borrow other people’s accounts and log in for longer playtimes.
Multiple game companies responded to say they will comply with the regulations and restrict the playtime of young users. Tencent pledged to explore new ways of preventing minors from becoming too attached to games. Another game company, Shengqu Games, said it will use facial recognition to check the identity of each gamer.
In response to the new regulations, the market had mixed reactions. Tencent’s share price was up by 2.28% near the end of Tuesday trading in Hong Kong. However, shares of other companies in the mobile game sector trended down. Bilibili’s shares in Hong Kong fell 1.73%, and NetEase also witnessed a 2.76% drop for the day.
Read this: Chinese game developer EskyFun leaves 1 million gamers’ data open to exploits, report says