The Chinese authorities introduced new rules to prevent under 18s from becoming addicted to online games. The latest restrictions curb online gaming to three hours per week. Previously minors were allowed to play 90 minutes a day. The rules will come into effect today, 1 September 2021.
China’s Watchdog Issues New Gaming Rules
The National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), China’s primary online gaming industry regulator, has introduced new rules to “prevent minors from indulging in online games and protect the physical and mental health of minors”.
The regulator sees online gaming as a prominent problem, which has a negative impact on life, learning and healthy growth, especially for under 18s. New restrictions imposed on online game providers will effectively limit online gaming to three hours a week.
Online game provides are to strictly implement real-name registrations and logins. Identity verification allows strict enforcement of the new rules. Moreover, China does not allow online gaming companies to provide any form of gaming service to users who have not properly registered.
Weekends and Public Holidays Only
People under the age of 18 are can only play online games on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from 8 to 9pm. They can play another hour on every official public holiday. Outside these times, online game providers are no longer allowed to provide services to children.
The NPPA also asked press and publication administrators at all levels to ensure that game companies enforce the rules. And to deal with companies who fail to put adequate measures in place.
Further, they advise families to adhere to the time periods and to “guide minors to form good online habits”. According to the NPPA, the majority of parents are in favor of more stringent measures. Previously, under 18s were allowed up to 1.5 hours of online gaming on any day.
The new rules are part of a crackdown on the dominance of major tech companies in the country. A succession of similar, but less severe measures were apparently not effective enough. Hence, Beijing is taking a harder stance. Authorities also signaled that they would continue to curb large tech companies.
Following the announcement, share prices of several gaming companies took another hit, after share prices were already wiped out by previous regulatory probes. However, the impact of the latest set of rules seems to be minimal. The share price of Tencent, for example, the publisher of Honor of Kings and Call of Duty Online, quickly recovered on Tuesday and is back to where it was mid-August.
Same for NetEase and Ubisoft. After an initial drop, their share price quickly climbed back up on Tuesday. Nonetheless, NetEase has had to deal with an 11.48% drop in their share price over the last six months. Ubisoft with a decrease of 20.94% over the same time period. And Tencent faced even larger losses. Their share price has fallen 29.87% in the last six months.
VPNs Not a Solution?
Although it’s possible to get around blocks and restrictions with a VPN, this method does not always work. In 2017, the Chinese government officially banned all commercial VPNs that don’t have government authorization.
Beijing also cracked down on individuals distributing VPNs. Last year, for example, a man was arrested for selling VPN services in China without proper approval.
Users sometimes set up a VPN before they return to or visit China to circumvent VPN blocking. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are among the best VPNs to use in China. Another highly recommended VPN is VyprVPN, which uses an encryption protocol called Chameleon that effectively combats VPN blocking.