Tencent Games expands anti-addiction system to 16 additional titles

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Tencent Games is expanding its anti-addiction system to 16 more mobile games, following concerns that China’s youth spends too much time gaming.

The company on Thursday said in a WeChat post (in Chinese) that its Healthy Gaming system now covers 31 titles, including “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG) Mobile and “Honour of Kings.” It vowed to implement the system in all of its games over the course of the year.

The increased control comes after Chinese gaming companies face blame for contributing to childhood gaming addiction. Last year, the state-run People’s Daily referred to Tencent’s online multiplayer “Honour of Kings” as “poison,” adding that social games need more stringent regulation.

Tencent began introducing restrictions on young players in July 2017. The anti-addiction system limits children aged 12 and younger to one hour of gaming a day between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Teens older than 12 years old can play for two hours every day.

The company has also implemented features to curb in-game overspending, which notifies guardians when their child reaches a spending threshold of RMB 500 (around $75) a month.

The anti-addiction system is underpinned by real-name verification, which requires users to confirm their identity against police databases, a move the company claims strengthens its protections. Last October, Tencent went even further by trialing facial recognition for verification purposes in Honour of Kings.

Earlier this month, Tencent’s rival NetEase followed suit by implementing similar time restrictions and curfews for underage players.

Tencent has suffered financially as a result of the unfavorable regulatory climate for game publishers. The Chinese government placed a moratorium on approving game licenses in early 2018, leading to massive losses for the industry as a whole.

However, things may be looking up for the gaming giant. Authorities resumed the game approval process in December after the nine-month freeze. The company has so far only received approval for two educational games, which are unlikely to have a significant effect on the company’s revenue.