China has reduced youth addiction to video games
In 2020, six out of 10 Chinese children played video games, but by 2022 only four out of 10 children did, due to Beijing’s online gaming time limit for minors.
Although many countries still view gambling as a pastime, the Chinese government has pledged to become the global capital of online gaming by 2025. One of the cornerstones of its strategy is to ensure that the government puts its weight behind the esports. This is done by supporting initiatives such as the development of a set of national standards for national esports players. While the state’s attention seems to be focused on esports, China also has a plan for mobile games and it’s a plan that Western developers need to take seriously if they want to succeed. A new set of regulations has emerged and since August 2021 has taken action around the video game ecosystem such as children being banned from playing games for more than three hours per week.
The Chinese government has attributed the rise of gambling addiction among youth to:
- Increasing “myopia”
- Poor focus
- Mental health problems
- sleeping sickness
Concerns about screen time have been intensified by Covid lockdowns and the move to online learning. Following gambling restrictions, Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, has banned under-14s from using the platform for more than 40 minutes a day. What has no government in the world done except to ban it like in India! Interestingly, the China Daily newspaper reported that many elderly residents of nursing homes are starting to play games online to strengthen their bond with their grandchildren!
The game sector has also been hit by a freeze on official approvals for new titles. It’s part of a wider crackdown by Chinese authorities on the country’s huge technology sector, which includes giants like Tencent, one of the world’s biggest video game companies. The report was co-authored by data provider CNG, which concluded that 75% of young gamers now play less than three hours a week.
Experts on the Asian gaming market said there has been a decline in revenue in China. Gamers ages 6 to 17 totaled 83 million in China this year, up from 122 million two years ago, analysts said. But the future looks brighter, with momentum from the economy, esports, PC gaming and the excitement of China’s more than 700 million gamers. Analysts also expect the regulations to hurt the supply of esports talent in China. Despite the challenges in the market, Tencent Holdings and NetEase, the country’s two main video game companies, have been cautious in Beijing’s line, while stressing that the earnings of young players are only a small part of their income. .
Tencent even shut down its wildly popular battle royale (BR) title PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) in China and replaced it with the relatively unknown but government-sanctioned Game For Peace. According to data from Sensor Tower, Game For Peace players spent over $14 million on in-game purchases within the first 72 hours of launch in 2019. Additionally, revenue generated by Game For Peace is about six times higher than PUBG in other countries during the same period.
Individual liberties in China are often ignored, in July 2021 Tencent launched a new feature in its facial recognition system that analyzes identity information in police databases to identify minors who gamble excessively at night. However, avid young players still find loopholes in the system. Analysts found that 82% of parents lend adult ID cards to their children to play games, while 29% of young gamers play more than the official limit of three hours per week.
Game players, developers, and publishers in China will have to adapt to the new system in the coming years. But it’s also worth noting that Chinese gaming giants have invested heavily in Western developers, seeking to diversify their holdings and tap into an increasingly hostile local industry. Tencent recently announced a €300 million investment in French company Guillemot Bros, which controls Ubisoft.