China slows online game approvals, citing addiction concerns

Olivia Richman • September 9, 13:18

China has been laser-focused on curbing gaming addiction in 2021.

Last month, China limited minors to three hours of gaming a week, down from 90 minutes a day. Now, China has slowed down approval for new online games.

The regulation was first reported by South China Morning Post. The newspaper said that the decision to slow down approvals came about after a Wednesday meeting between Chinese authorities and gaming firms. The gaming firms included Tencent Holdings and NetEase. The move comes as the Chinese government is working to wrangle its rapidly growing tech sector.

A source close to the decision said the reduced game approvals will occur “for a while” in an attempt to cut down on new games and reduce gaming addiction. The anonymous source stated that game approval had been “too aggressive” in the first half of the year.

Unlike in other countries, China requires publishers to fulfill various requirements in order to effectively monetize their games in the region. This can include censoring certain content and including software that tracks players’ gaming habits, as well as implementing limits on the amount of money players can spend on microtransactions.

Are video games banned in China?

Video games aren’t banned in China but there are many restrictions, especially for minors.

Since 2004, video game content has been banned from ads and, many popular video games have been banned from China. There are also many restrictions in terms of what can be portrayed in games, with the most notorious example being PUBG Mobile being replaced with a very similar title called Game For Peace. The game is retooled to be an homage to China’s military that features eliminated opponents waving after being shot instead of being killed.

In 2018, China started targeting restrictions on how games were played as well. A law passed in 2019 stating minors couldn’t play video games past 10 p.m., and couldn’t play longer than 90 minutes per day on weekdays. This was raised to two hours on Saturday and Sunday. China also barred minors from microtransactions.

China stated that gaming addiction is still on the rise throughout the country. This led to the three-hour-a-week regulation and now the passing of the online game approval suspension.

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