China to limit number of online games over myopia fears

Andrew Cummings
September 3, 2018

According to public filings, Tencent also owns 100% of Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends; 80 percent of Supercell, the makers of Clash of Clans and Clash Royale; 80 percent of Grinding Gear Games, the makers of Path of Exile; plus minority stakes in Activision Blizzard, Epic Games (the makers of Fortnite), Ubisoft, Paradox Interactive, and several other multinational game publishers and development studios. Regulators haven't approved the sale of any new games or in-game apps since March.

China has the largest video game market in the world, but the Chinese Government is clamping down on the booming industry.

China's leader Xi Jinping had earlier addressed the high incidence of myopia amongst China's youth, saying governments at all levels should implement comprehensive and effective schemes to prevent and treat this problem, the official Xinhua news agency reported on August 28.

Stocks of Chinese gaming companies plunged on Friday in response to the new policies.


Pushing children to spend more time outdoors playing instead of gaming may see some backlash from parents, though.

Smaller game developers also lost ground in Shenzhen.

The publishing regulator should control the number of online video games and take measures to limit the amount of time young people spend playing games, The ministry said in a document published on Thursday.

But the move adds to perceptions that there is a broader campaign to rein in China's fast-growing video game sub-culture after authorities already made clear their concerns over gaming addiction and the violent content of many shoot-em-up titles. Its stock has plunged almost 30% since January, wiping out more than $160 billion in market value.


It's a huge development given the country's position as the world's biggest gaming market, and the new rules will make it even harder for developers to launch games in the region. But if a company as powerful as Tencent is taking a hit, it seems reasonable to assume that the Chinese economy could ultimately suffer from the ramifications of these restrictions.

The limits came around the same time as Tencent drew scrutiny from China's communist party mouthpiece, the People's Daily, which described "Honour of Kings" as poison and called for tighter regulatory controls of online games.

"The use of electronic products for non-learning purposes should not exceed 15 minutes and should not be more than one hour per day", the ministry said.


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