New regulations announced by the Chinese government will limit minors there to just three hours of online gaming per week. The new rules, meant to combat ‘gaming addiction’ among minors, restrict anyone under the age of 18 to one hour of gaming per evening on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at market research firm Niko Partners, describes the new policy as “extremely restrictive” and points out that the existing rules limit minors to 1.5 hours of gaming per day. The policy, which is set to go into effect September 1, will be enforced at the account level by using existing requirements for real-name registration and China’s current anti-addiction system, he explains.
“For reference, there are around 110 million minors in China that play videogames today,” Ahmad said on Twitter. However, it’s worth noting that the regulation covers only online games, and Ahmad also says that while 110 million players is a lot of people, Chinese publisher Tencent says they represent only about 2.6% of its total player spend.
Here’s Ahmad’s thread:
The previous policy was 1.5 hours a day, so this is an extreme change and comes at a time when South Korea has just overturned its own shutdown law.
Minors will be restricted at the account level using the existing real name registration and anti-addiction system.
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) August 30, 2021
Even if minors only make up a small percentage of total recurrent spending in games in China, the new rules are likely to have implications on partnerships like the one Valve has with Chinese publisher Perfect World to operate Steam China, which launched earlier this year with a selection of popular online multiplayer games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Bloomberg reports that Chinese internet service provider and PC games publisher NetEase’s stock price fell 9.3% this morning in New York as news of the increased restrictions broke.
China’s regulators say minors can play games a total of just three hours most weeks. Netease shares tumbling. https://t.co/zpCndaNiDP via @pingroma pic.twitter.com/TEzEpyBsAS
— Peter Elstrom (@pelstrom) August 30, 2021
As noted above, China already limits minors’ access to online gaming, and the nation has also placed a multitude of restrictions on the kinds of content available to minors in games. Last year, China moved to reduce the number of games approved for publication each year.
We’ll update this story with any further developments.