Tencent Games Will Verify IDs to Limit Playing Times for Children
Like every other nation, the Chinese are not immune to the negative effects of video games. They too are haunted. And by nothing less sinister than the evils of gaming addiction, failing eyesight, and unfinished homework. Yes, the horror is real. But it was precisely this last issue which forced Tencent Games to finally take action. With this decision being overseen by the all-seeing state government. Not a big surprise, really…
So in September, Tencent Games started to impose strict age & time regulations on its games.
The honor of Kings – A Tencent Games Test-Case
The first victim of this newly initiated project – termed ‘health system’ – is the Honor of King’s title. A mobile app game with a wildly popular follower-base. So popular, in fact, that parents lodged complaints against it. Because their children were staying up well past their bedtime to play it. Which caused them to fall behind on their important schoolwork. And no child guardian can let this pass, obviously.
Gamers’ eyesight was (allegedly) also being impacted. So another objective behind these measures concerns improving their shortsightedness. Which simply means being able to see nearby objects clearly, with 6×6 vision.
Now, young Chinese gamers are bound by the following restrictions when playing the video game:
- Those aged 12 & below can only play for 1 hour/day (between 8 am and 9 pm)
- Those aged between 13 & 18 are allowed only 2 hours daily
To make good on its claims, Tencent Games plans to verify player ages through facial recognition. Along with scanning local police databases to confirm IDs. Though these actions are still in the experimental stage.
By the end of this year, the company aims to extend these rules to 10 other popular titles. With this net planned to cover all of its mobile games by 2019. So less ‘timewasting’ and ‘health-wasting’ retreats for the young ones!
Privacy Rights Groups are Concerned
As expected, this decision has caused many raised eyebrows among privacy rights advocates. The Chinese government is already well known for its hard-hitting authoritarianism. And this move is being seen as just another attempt by an already powerful executive to seize more control.
From the government’s angle, this approach is easy enough to understand.
Video games, like other multimedia productions, invite dissent. And encourage protests; in the manner of rebelling artworks. Issues which the Chinese state takes very seriously. Because it aims to maintain complete control of all aspects of public life. As well as public thought.
In this respect, all ‘ideas’ that go against the state narrative need to be censored. Even if a hint of suspicion arises regarding their intent. It is in no way shocking, then, to note that the state-run media has always vilified video games. Blaming them for their addictive quality, and for promoting social violence. Nor that it came out in full support after the Tencent mobile games announcement.
Even the government’s own newspaper, the People’s Daily, seems to be excited. In a recent issue, it praised Tencent’s ‘important step towards taking social responsibility’.
So go figure.
But Tencent Mobile Game Players Will Find a Way…
Another issue heavily discussed on social media points to the simple-mindedness of the company.
South Korea put similar gameplay restrictions on its video game industry. But this only caused gamers to become cleverer about the entire affair. And so they took hold of their parents and elder siblings’ mobile phones. Because these were obviously not blocked by the government’s controls.
Critics of the Tencent mobile games system claim that the government has learned nothing from this example. And so it is bound to repeat the same mistake. But at the cost of damaging its own country’s gaming industry.
Tencent mobile games bring in the majority revenue share for Tencent Holdings. So putting rigid player blocks on them directly translates into cornering the company. A measure which will cause it to incur heavy losses.
And this has indeed happened.
Because ever since the government’s ban was slapped on the company, its share prices have dropped. Many local investors have even jumped ship – as they don’t see profitable times ahead.
The Challenge Ahead
China currently has more than 600 million gamers. And most of them are absolutely hooked onto one Tencent game title or another. So for the company to identify all of these people will be a huge challenge. An issue which has already raised a lot of concerns within its headquarters in Shenzhen. Even by working overtime and at full capacity, the company won’t succeed overnight. Most experts are giving it a 5-year figure – with full control expected to take the swing by 2023.
But since the government is pleased with this rollout, timing may not be a big problem. The state, after all, has a history of providing regulatory relief to businesses who toe its line. And Tencent does seem to be doing that. If only to protect its own long-term interests.
The second problem relates to the government’s ban – which will last till 2019. During this period, players will not be able to make in-app purchases on Tencent games. Since these are the major routes from which the company gains revenue, profits will continue to plummet.
Still…the parents are happy. Which does count for something, right?
Internet Plans – an American Twist to the Affair
In the U.S, video games from Tencent are also a big thing. Popular titles like:
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (2017)
- Ring of Elysium (2018)
- Call of Duty Online
Are enjoyed by many avid gamers on a daily basis. Many prefer to use local ISP vendors to download and play them. Both on mobile and standard gaming consoles.
In this respect, Optimum Internet plans are a popular service option.
Or this Internet Plans? it’s Your Call
The same, to a large extent, can be said about Xfinity Internet plans. These come with over 6 affordable subscription options. And they make playing any online gaming title a breeze.
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