In a major shift for the gaming market in China, the country has enacted new rules that prohibit children from gaming online more than three hours per week on most weeks. According to reporting from Bloomberg, kids under 18 will be allowed just one hour per day from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Online gaming will also be permitted for kids on public holidays. To enforce the new rules, gaming companies will be required to use "real-name registrations." There will also be regulations and checks in terms of in-game purchases, and efforts will be made to combat gaming addiction.
Naturally, many gaming companies feel that the new regulations are too strict, and the rules already seem to be having an impact on the markets. However, in-game purchases from minors make up a very small part of the earnings for some companies. Apparently, spending from minors accounts for less than 3% of Tencent's gross gaming revenue.
"Since 2017, Tencent has explored and applied various new technologies and functions for the protection of minors," Tencent said in a message statement provided to Bloomberg. "That will continue, as Tencent strictly abides by and actively implements the latest requirements from Chinese authorities."
It will be interesting to see the long-term impact of these policies! While companies like Tencent might not make much from minors, these policies could lead to less interest in online gaming from the overall population. If the efforts are successful, it might also encourage legislators in other countries to pursue similar methods. Online gaming addiction and spending is a very real problem for some players, and there's a strong argument to be made that "gacha" elements in some games can be considered gambling.
Over the last few years, there has been a lot of focus on the predatory aspects of online games. Streamers like Asmongold have railed against microtransactions, and how they make games less enjoyable overall. It's possible these new regulations could even convince the industry to shift away from the microtransaction model altogether! For now, we'll just have to wait and see!
What do you think of these regulations in China? Should there be similar restrictions on kids in other countries? Let us know in the comments or share your thoughts directly on Twitter at @Marcdachamp to talk all things gaming!