Tencent on Thursday released on its official gaming WeChat account a list of 12 rules for live-streaming platforms and streamers, forbidding a number of behaviors in all live-stream shows that involve its games.
The new rules come just two weeks after the release of China’s first official standards for live-streaming organizations, issued by authorities in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, which cracked down on underage streamers and stipulated how female streamers should dress. Those standards followed a set of guidelines by the China Netcasting Services Association (CNSA) also released last month, which listed a total of 100 categories of non-compliant types of content.
While the 12 Tencent rules included broad articles pertaining to speech or behavior that go against national policies, social stability, and personal privacy, most of them relate specifically to the gaming side of live-streaming.
According to one of the Tencent rules, any action that damages user experience and the brand of Tencent’s games is forbidden. The official press release from the company did not elaborate.
Another article in the rules prohibits individual streamers from posing as representatives of live-streaming platforms or Tencent Games in order to spread false information.
Also forbidden is the dissemination of information related to the use of illegal private servers, viruses, cheats, and boosting. Boosting is where a skilled player uses other accounts in order to increase their ranking, or where a player tries to get opponents to work with them instead of against them.
Whether exploits—the use of bugs or game designs in ways not intended by a game’s designers—is covered by the list is unclear.
The 12 rules also touched upon the issue of video streamers unilaterally ending their contracts with live-streaming platforms, which has been a long-standing issue in China’s booming game live-streaming industry. Live-streaming platform Douyu TV, for example, has sued several of its star streamers for prematurely ending their contracts and leaving for Huya, the platform’s US-listed rival. According to Tencent’s press release, such behavior will not be allowed after the implementation of its new rules. The announcement didn’t specify when the rules come in to force.
Tencent says it will “resolutely call to account and punish” platforms and streamers that violate the rules. When asked about the specific punishments, a Tencent spokesperson told TechNode that depending on the severity of the violation, Tencent would ban a streamer from streaming any Tencent game for periods ranging from a limited amount of time to indefinitely, and stop all forms of official cooperation with that streamer. He added that subsequent offences that occur during the ban could lead to further penalties. Tencent did not specify whether it would work with live-streaming platforms to enforce the punishments.
The gaming behemoth currently runs some of the world’s most popular games in China, including League of Legends, its mobile equivalent Honour of Kings, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), and the mobile version of PUBG.
These games currently are the top four games on both Douyu and Huya. The popularity of these games, together with the severity of Tencent’s punishments, suggests the new rules could have a far-reaching influence.
The 12 rules represent the latest in a series of efforts by Tencent to make its games and game-related content more palatable to regulators. The company has been rolling out a real-name registration system on all of its games as well as a facial recognition system in an attempt to limit the gaming hours of minors.