Just this month, the Chinese government issued new rules specifically aimed towards its young, video gaming population—no playing video games after 10pm and no more than 90 minutes of gaming on weekdays. For gamers who want to purchase add-ons to their games such as virtual weapons and gear, a limit of US$57 (S$78) a month will be enforced.
China’s online gaming industry is one of the largest and most lucrative in the world, hosting hundreds of millions of users and churning out more than US$33 billion (S$45 billion) in annual revenue.
Along with these impressive figures, however, comes a price—China’s youth are heavily invested in the industry as well, and video game addiction has been a growing problem in the nation. Government officials believe the all-encompassing hobby is unhealthy for youngsters and is responsible for an increase in lower academic performance as well as a rise in vision issues (mostly near-sightedness) from too much screen time.
The National Press and Publication Administration announced the new rules at the beginning of this month. Gamers below 18 are not allowed to play games from 10pm to 8am. Video gaming sessions must not be longer than 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends and holidays.
Minors are also required to use their real names and identification numbers when they log on to play. The new regulations also place a ceiling on how much young gamers can spend on gaming purchases, such as virtual clothing, weapons or tools. Depending on their age, purchase caps are placed at US$28 to US$57 (S$38 to S$78) a month, depending on the gamer’s age.
Under President Xi Jinping, China has focused on regulating large technology companies and using them to help spread cultural and moral values upheld by the ruling Communist Party.
Video game addiction amongst young people has been a particular area of focus for the government, which has blocked the sale of certain game titles, citing them as inappropriate and too violent. The state-run media has even said that some games are like “poison” for young people’s minds, and President Xi has also spoken on the subject of poor eyesight and vision problems among China’s children.
The new rules are also in place to fight mental health and social issues in minors brought on by video gaming addiction.
“These problems affect the physical and mental health of minors, as well as their normal learning and living,” the National Press and Publication Administration said in a statement released by Xinhua, the official news agency.
In terms of the new regulations affecting revenue, gaming analysts are not worried. Big tech companies like Tencent and NetEase have even gone ahead and imposed limits on young users.
With China being one of the biggest and most heavily regulated video game markets globally, tech companies all over the world would be put in the position to also take a closer look at and possibly follow the new regulations, especially for publishers and game developers. /TISG