Tencent To Use Police Data To Identify Gamers’ Age In China

One of the largest gaming companies in the world owned by Tencent Holdings wants to react to the increasing government pressure and criticism on the issue of negative influence of prolonged exposure of children to video games and plans to make use of police data to identify minors and prevent them from spending long hours in playing its online blockbuster “Honour of Kings”.

The company has introduced this policy in China from middle of September – using its “strictest” real name verification process, the Chinese group has said. This verification process would make use of data from the public security authority so that the company is able to accurately verify the ages of all new gamers. According to the company, only one hour every day would be allowed for those identified to be below 12 years to play the online game. For older minors the time would be has been fixed at 2 hours.  The company also said that slowly, other online games run by the company would be included in the process.

There has been government action in China on the video gaming industry and a number of government ministries have expressed their plans to bring down the number of online games and new releases as well as to discuss age restrictions. These measures have been announced by the Chinese authorities after receiving a growing number of public criticisms about the industry and that the industry has been unable to address the issues related to mental health – especially among children and minors, such as online addiction.

The gaming industry in China however has been a sufferer of the actions of the government. There has been a spiralling down of shares of gaming companies across the sector. Tencent itself has lost over 33 per cent of its share value in the last six months.

Many analysts are also of the opinion that the recent crack down on video gaming companies in China would only speed up the domestic slowdown which is already being witnessed in the second largest economy of the world.

“The rapid growth in China’s gaming industry has already ended,” said Kern Zhang of App Annie, a market intelligence group specializing in online games.

According to Beijing-based research company CNG and the country’s official gaming association, between January and June this year, there has been a 4 per cent increase in the number of Chinese gamers rose to almost 530 million. But despite that number being more than the 3.6 per cent growth in the segment in the same period a year ago, the numbers have been going down since peaking in 2015. There was double digit growth in the number of Chinese gamers in 2015.

Zhang said “no matter how big or small, Chinese game makers will all experience rising challenges in attracting new players” because of lesser number of new gamers joining the band and the existing players demanding higher quality games. “The good old days that Chinese gaming companies could make money from any release are simply no longer there.”

(Adapted from Asia.Nekkei.com)

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