China to ban children from playing online games for more than three hours per week

China to ban children from playing online games for more than three hours per week

Animation game players participate in ChinaJoy 2021 in Shanghai, China on July 30, 2021.

price photo | Barcroft Media | Getty Images

In China, children and adolescents under the age of 18 will only be allowed up to three hours per week to play online video games, according to new rules released by the National Press and Publications Administration on Monday. from China.

The move is yet another blow to the country’s gaming giants, from Tencent to NetEase, which this year has faced a wave of regulations in areas ranging from anti-monopoly to data security. It has rocked investors and wiped out billions of dollars in Chinese tech stocks.

According to a translated opinion on the new rules, people under the age of 18 in China will be allowed between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday and 1 a.m. on legal holidays to play video games. The agency introduced the rules as a way to protect children’s physical and mental health.

The rules will apply to businesses providing online gaming services to minors, limiting their ability to serve such users outside of specified hours. Companies will also not be allowed to provide services to users who have not logged in with a real name registration, preventing them from ignoring their users’ backgrounds.

The latest NPPA rules dramatically reduce the time minors spend playing online games. Under the 2019 rules, under-18s were allowed to play the game for an hour and a half a day on most days.

“Today, more than 110 million minors in China play video games, and we expect the new limits to reduce the number of players and the time and money spent on games by people in China. under the age of 18. ” will decline. ”Daniel Ahmed, senior analyst at Niko Partners, said.

“However, we don’t expect the drop in spending to have a significant impact on sports business results, as the schedule and spending for minors has already been in place for two years. a softer impact Hopefully on the overall growth rate because spending among miners was already low.

Tencent previously said that only a small portion of the game’s revenue comes from young players in China. In the second quarter, 2.6% of gross gaming revenue in China came from players under the age of 16.

U.S.-listed shares of NetEase, one of China’s gaming giants, fell 6.7% in morning trading.

Tencent said in a statement on its WeChat account that it will implement the new requirements and support the new rules. The Chinese gaming giant has taken steps to anticipate regulators in recent months. In July, Tencent required gamers to perform a facial recognition scan on their phones to check if they are adults.

NetEase was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Beijing has long been concerned about gambling addiction among the country’s youth. Game consoles were banned for nearly 14 years until 2014. And a state-affiliated publication ran an article this month calling online games “opium” and calling for new penalties. The article was deleted and then republished with a new title and references to “opium” removed. But it has raised concerns among investors about the possibility of further gambling restrictions.

This month, Tencent warned it expected more regulation but was confident it could comply.

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