China tells Tencent and Netease to focus less on profit as gaming crackdown expands

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state-run news agency Xinhua has reported on Wednesday that executives had called firms including industry leaders Tencent (TCEHY) And net ease (detector), to discuss restrictions on the streaming and playing of video games among minors.

According to the report, during the meeting, companies were urged to “break from the monotonous focus of chasing profit or attracting players and fans”. They were also asked to modify any rules or design elements of the games that could be seen as “inducing addictions”.

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According to Xinhua, representatives of four government agencies were involved in the discussion: the propaganda department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the National Press and Publication Administration, the office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

“Companies that fail to comply with the requirements will be severely punished,” the state news agency reported.


Shares of Chinese gaming companies fell in response to the news. NetEase stock fell 5.2% in New York on Wednesday after state media reports were published, and shares of Tencent in Hong Kong fell 6% on Thursday.

Just last week, China barred online gamers under the age of 18 from playing on weekdays and limited their games to just three hours, marking a significant escalation of restrictions on the country’s massive gaming industry. done.

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The move represented a major tightening of the earlier limits set by the agency in 2019, which had already restricted play for children to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends.

Officials said last week that the new restrictions were in place to help prevent youth from becoming addicted to video games.

He reminded companies of this mandate on Wednesday, saying game providers must “fully and honestly enforce deadlines” for minors.

“Online game companies and platforms… should strengthen political positions and shoulder responsibilities,” Xinhua news agency wrote.

It said officials had instructed companies to crack down on content promoting “false values” or an “unhealthy culture”, such as obscenity, violence and “money-worship”.

The live-stream gaming platform was also asked to increase supervision for underage players “including banning large prizes”.

spectators playing "arena of valor," A multiplayer online battle arena game at Tencent's booth during a trade fair in Beijing in September.

Companies are heeding the warning.

“We believe in healthy sporting play and take the physical and mental health of minors very seriously,” Tencent said in a statement.

“We appreciate the guidance and direction from relevant regulators, and will work hard to be in full compliance with all regulations relating to youth sport addiction and content regulation.”

NetEase also pledged to “strictly follow the rules and instructions”.

“We will continue our efforts to deliver more quality games and promote a healthy and responsible gaming environment for minor players, as we seek to create and promote a healthy gaming environment in China,” it said in a statement.

The news comes as some critics have pointed to potential flaws in the latest restrictions.

On Wednesday, the Chinese state broadcaster cctv pointed out that some online video game stores “do not verify the age of buyers, and will not refuse buyers even if they know they are minors.”

According to CCTV, some stores even advertise that they are not part of the “addiction prevention” campaign.

— Granthshala’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.


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