China Restricts Online Gaming Play for Minors to One Hour on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays

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Today, China announced through its national Press and Publication Administration (via Xinhua, the official state-run press agency) a major restriction of online gaming play for minors. Back in November 2019, the restrictions forced underage gamers to play one hour and a half on weekdays and three hours on weekends and holidays.

The new limitations are far harsher. Minors will only get to play for one hour between 8 pm and 9 pm local time on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. From the notice, which we've translated below via DeepL, it seems like they won't be able to access online games at all during weekdays.

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The State Press and Publication Administration issued a notice to further strict management to effectively prevent minors from being addicted to online games.

  • Strictly limit the time of providing online game services to minors - All online game enterprises can only provide one hour of service to minors from 20:00 to 21:00 daily on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays.
  • Strictly implement the requirements for real-name registration and login of online game user accounts - Do not provide game services in any form to users without real-name registration and login.
  • Strengthen supervision - Seriously deal with online game enterprises that do not strictly implement the requirements in accordance with the law.
  • Actively guide families, schools, and other social parties to co-manage and govern.

Just a few weeks ago, Xinhua called gaming 'spiritual opium' in a story that was subsequently amended, with anonymous sources remarking that it was not the Chinese state's official stance. That might not be the case, but today's updated restrictions on online gaming play certainly highlight the state's concerns with regards to minors spending too much time on games.

It's also likely that the recent foreign investments from NetEase and Tencent are an attempt to offset the increasing restrictions local companies are facing in China.

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