China’s state censor has introduced new restrictions for minors playing mobile games, introducing guidelines regarding real-name identification, time limits, age rating limits, and spending limits, the South China Morning Post reports. The new rules come from the State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Security, after growing concerns about excessive gaming among minors.
Minors account for about 20% of China’s internet users, but a smaller percentage of the country’s online game players. Gaming analyst Daniel Ahmad told South China Morning Post that these new rules, especially stricter “will have a larger impact given that these systems will be harder for minors to hack or cheat.”
The new real-name registration system is stricter to allow companies to verify the identities and ages of their users. This will be the first time an age rating system will be imposed. Players found to be younger than the age rating of a given game will be restricted from playing entirely. Companies found breaking the rules may face numerous penalties, such as losing their games publishing licenses, in severe cases.
The other guidelines suggest limiting gameplay to between 8 AM and 10 PM, with no more than 1.5 hours of gameplay allowed each day—though on holidays, minors may play up to three hours. Each month, no more than 400 yuan ($57 USD) should be spent on in-game purchases. Players under eight years old are completely prohibited from spending real money in games.
This move comes after Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company, introduced anti-addiction measures earlier this year, restricting gaming to one hour per day for players under 12 and two hours per day for players aged between 12 and 18, all between 8 AM and 9 PM daily, for 31 of their games. Tencent also implemented a spending reminder to pop up in their games when an underage player spends more than 500 yuan in 30 days back in 2018.
SAPP is optimistic about their new guidelines, according to a spokesman for the government branch. “The guideline’s introduction and implementation will strengthen and improve the management of online games,” they said. “It will protect the physical and mental health of minors and build a healthy internet environment.”