Kids and teens under 18 years old in China will only be allowed up to three hours per week to play online video games, China’s video game regulator said.
The National Press and Publication Administration told state-run news agency Xinhua that game-playing would be only allowed between 8:00pm to 9:00pm on Fridays, weekends and legal holidays.
It also instructed gaming companies to prevent children playing outside these times. The companies also will not be allowed to provide services to users who haven’t logged in with real-name registration, preventing them from simply remaining ignorant to their users’ backgrounds.
Earlier this month a state media outlet branded online games “spiritual opium”.
Inspections of online gaming companies will also increase, to check that the time limits are being enforced, the regulator said. Earlier rules had limited children’s online game-playing to 90 minutes per day, rising to three hours on holidays.
The move reflects a long running concern about the impact of excessive gaming on the young.
A month prior to the latest restrictions, an article published by the state-run Economic Information Daily claimed many teenagers had become addicted to online gaming and it was having a negative impact on them.
The article prompted significant falls in the value of shares in some of China’s biggest online gaming firms.
In July, Chinese gaming giant Tencent announced it was rolling out facial recognition to stop children playing between 10:00pm and 8:00am.
“There are over 110 million minors that play video games in China today, and we expect the new limits to lead to a decline in the number of players and a reduction in the amount of time and money spent in games by those under 18,” Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad said.
“However, we do not expect the decline in spend to have a significant material impact on the bottom line of game companies given limits on time and spending have already been in place for minors for the past two years. Therefore, we expect a softer impact on overall growth rates as spending among minors was already low.”
Tencent has previously said only a small amount of gaming revenue comes from younger players in China. In the second quarter, 2.6% of gross game receipts in China were from players under 16 years old.