Tencent has announced plans to introduce a new real name verification system to limit play time for younger users of its lucrative Honour of Kings video game, as the Chinese technology conglomerate battles escalating government scrutiny.
The move follows an onslaught of regulatory curbs by Beijing that has scythed more than one-third off Tencent’s share price since the January peak and triggered a rare drop in profits in the second quarter.
While Tencent — which garners the bulk of its revenues and growth from gaming — has previously taken steps to address Beijing’s concerns of children’s “addiction” to the top-grossing game, including limiting time spent playing by minors, regulators have ratcheted up the pressure in recent months.
Just last week the Ministry of Education, fretting about the impact of heavy gaming on children’s vision, proposed limiting the number of new online game releases and restricting the time young people spent playing online games. It said it would also explore creating an age-appropriate notification system.
The ministry said parents should reduce the time children spend on devices such as smartphones and tablets, saying that pre-school children should be limited to one hour a day with no more than 15-minute long sessions focused on educational activities.
On Thursday, Tencent announced it would implement the real-name verification of new users from about September 15, checking their identification information against a database platform belonging to public security authorities.
It said the system would be able to determine at the time of registration whether users were minors and their daily playing time should therefore be restricted. That would limit children under the age of 12 to one hour’s playing time per day. Older children would be limited to two hours of play before the game automatically shuts down.
However, the statement did not say how or whether existing users might be incorporated into the new scheme.