Tencent will soon require that all preteen gamers provide their Chinese national ID in order to monitor their play time.
You might not have heard of Tencent Holdings, but you should know they’re the largest gaming company in the world. They have a majority stake in Riot Games (the makers of League of Legends) and minority stakes in Activision/Blizzard, Epic Games, and Paradox Interactive.
However, much of their focus is on the mobile market where China reigns supreme. They’ve got over 600 million mobile gamers in the country (according to The Verge), a Chinese mobile game is just a printing press for money.
Unfortunately for Tencent, the Chinese government has noticed how many of the country’s youth are now glued to their screens. They’ve started to take action in the form of demanding more curbs be placed on preteen gamers to prevent them from spending hours upon hours glued to their phones, and they’ve started blocking Tencent from publishing new games in order to drive the message home.
They've also prevented Tencent from making any money on in-app transactions for the wildly popular PUBG Mobile, which is estimated to have cost the company a billion dollars.
So to appease government regulators, Tencent is expanding their current anti-gaming addiction system from just one game (Honor Of Kings) to all of their games by next year. That’s over 100 mobile titles that will now limit how long kids can play.
The system itself sounds like a cyber-dystopian nightmare. First, the Chinese gamer must enter in their Chinese national ID to the Tencent system (sort of like a social insurance number). The system then tracks how long you play; gamers 12 and under can only play for 1 hour per day, while those aged 13-18 can play for 2 hours.
Eventually, the system will even include a facial recognition portion to prevent kids from logging onto their accounts from different phones, according to Reuters.
It sounds pretty terrible, but when the Chinese government wants young people to get off their phones, they mean it. So far this doesn’t seem to affect PC gaming, but you gotta know that’s coming eventually.