NetEase updates anti-addiction game system to increase parental control

2 min read
New NetEase flagship game Nishuihan developed by Leihuo Game department. (Image Credit: NetEase Gaming)

NetEase has on Monday updated its existing anti-addiction game system, adding a new feature that allows parents to monitor and control the time and money their children can spend on NetEase’s 15 major titles.

The feature, named “child guardian,” follows by more than two years Tencent’s “super parent,” which is most famous for giving parents the ability to kick their kids out of a game with the click of a button.

While NetEase’s version doesn’t give parents that kind of power, it does enable monitoring the duration of time children spend in games and the time of login, both down to the second. Parents can also set in advance times when access will be blocked.

A NetEase spokesman told TechNode that the absence of “one button ban” is to help parents manage the playtime of underage users in a “more targeted and flexible way.”

“Child guardian” also let users limit their kids’ in-game spending. Users can set an upper limit for in-app purchases for a certain period of time.

Both parents and children need to go through NetEase’s real-name verification to activate the new feature. Unlike Tencent’s version, however, NetEase’s verification system has not yet been connected to China’s public security database.

Since 2019, the company has been speeding up the construction of its anti-addiction system, limiting the playtime of underage players and enforcing a “curfew” that bars users under 18 from accessing NetEase titles from 9:30 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. the next day. A NetEase spokesman told TechNode that the company could further extend the right to monitor underage users’ game activities to teachers like Tencent did.

In recent years, companies like Tencent and NetEase have been under mounting pressure from regulators to prevent damage to children’s eyesight—video games are considered detrimental—and video game addiction.

As the two largest game developers and publishers in China, Tencent and NetEase have been taking a number of measures comply with regulators, with Tencent taking the lead. Tencent’s most recent update to its anti-addiction system, for instance, only allows players above 16 to play “PUBG Mobile” replacement “Game for Peace.”