“I want to cry”, 14-year-old Zhang Yuchen says that during the summer holidays he can only enjoy two hours a day of his favorite video game due to the tightening of the rules in China to fight against addiction to screens.
The tech giant Tencent, the Chinese market leader, imposed a new restriction on its flagship title, the ultra-popular “Honor of Kings”. Now, those under 18 can only play two hours a day, maximum.
Some children can spend the entire day glued to their screens. A phenomenon long criticized in China for its negative consequences: reduced vision, negative impact on school results, lack of physical activity or risk of addiction.
A sample of the weight of the video game market in this country of 1,400 million inhabitants is that they generated 17,000 million euros (approx. 398 million Mexican pesos) turnover only in the first half of 2021.
The regulations already prohibited minors from playing online between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m., but when in early August an article in an official economic newspaper called videogames a “a mental opium”, the sector began to fear a new regulatory tightening of the authorities to digital companies.
The article further pointed to Tencent already its popular game “Honor of Kings”, a success in China with more than 100 million daily active users. Hence, the stock market investors dumped the shares of the giants of the sector (Tencent, NetEase, Bilibili …), which caused the prices to fall.
– “Addicts” –
Faced with this pressure, the group, which already imposed limitations on playing time through facial recognition so that those under 18 years old will not play at night, further toughened the rules. Now, they will only be able to play “Honor of Kings” one hour a day during school hours and two hours during the holidays. After this period of time, the game crashes.
For many young people it is an excessive strategy. For 17-year-old Li, who refused to give her last name, the measure is “distressing”, since he believes that adolescents of his age, who are almost of legal age and therefore more responsible, can limit their time playing on your own.
However, some astute ones found the solution: “Using an adult’s account, I play for two to three hours a day and of course starting at 10 at night“laughs a 17-year-old player who wishes to remain anonymous.
But was the frenzied reaction of the markets justified by the magazine article?
“Investors in the stock market overreacted and it got the media out of control,” said Ether Yin, an analyst at Trivium China.
“Since 2018 the government wants to prevent children from becoming addicted to games,” he says, and emphasizes that this trend is not new, so other video game companies are expected to create their own restrictions in the coming weeks.
For now, the measures only apply to Tencent’s gameBut most parents welcome the new restrictions, although some who loved to play with their children have also been affected.