A hot potato: China has taken another step in its war against online gaming by cutting the amount of time under 18s can spend on the activity to just one hour on Fridays, weekends, and holidays. Previously, minors could access online games for one and a half hours on weekdays and three hours on holidays and weekends.
State-run press agency Xinhua (via The Guardian) reports that the rules, announced through China’s national Press and Publication Administration, mean those under 18 will now only be allowed to play online games between 8 pm and 9 pm local time on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. Online gaming companies will be prohibited from allowing access outside of these days and hours, which means no access from Monday through Thursday unless it’s a holiday.
Companies behind the games will need to enforce the policy by ensuring they implement real-name registrations and logins, said the gaming regulator. Xinhua writes that the National Press and Publication Administration also warned that firms would face an increase in the intensity and frequency of inspections to ensure they are adhering to the rules on time limits for minors. Any failure to do so will be severely punished.
The China government has long held a dim view of video games, particularly those of the online variety. It was only a few weeks ago that Xinhua branded them “electronic drugs.” The comment sent Tencent and NetEase shares falling more than 10%, wiping almost $60 billion from the former’s market cap, which could explain why the state later said this was not an official stance.