Tech

Tencent to limit access to its gaming platform ahead of school break in China – allowing 14 hours of play

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"Elementary school kids," Tencent's post said, are "eager to indulge in some gaming fun." But, the post continued: "Guess what? For this winter break, you can only play for a maximum of 14 hours!"
  • Tencent says school kids in China can only play games on its platform on 14 specific days in the coming weeks.
  • They're limited to just 14 hours of game time over the 4-week winter break period.
  • The announcement coincides with the Chinese government's crackdown on gaming.
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Tencent is implementing a strict 14-hour limit on young gamers as they head off on their four-week winter break from school.

It's also warning adults against allowing children to use their accounts to circumvent these rules, telling adult users that the company will deploy facial recognition on accounts with suspicious activity. 

Details of this were shared in a post on Monday on Tencent Games' WeChat account. Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent owns both Tencent Games and WeChat. 

The warning comes after Beijing issued new rules last year to restrict online gaming among kids and teens.

 A post posted by the tech giants read in Chinese that for an entire semester primary school kids have had their time restricted. With the holidays approaching they are eager to get more gaming time in during this upcoming winter break and Spring Festival. "Guess what? For this winter break, you can only play for a maximum of 14 hours!" the post continues.

The post included a calendar marking out in red which days have been approved for online gaming for Tencent Games' young subscribers.

Only 14 days between January 17 to February 15 are pre-approved days for gaming, according to the calendar.

Kids are allowed access to Tencent's gaming platform on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and during the week-long Spring Festival, which starts January 31.

Tencent Games' gaming time limits coincide with Beijing's recent crackdown on gaming. Last August, the Chinese state agency National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) announced that online game providers may only offer one-hour time slots — from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. — to minors on Fridays, weekends, and official holidays.

In its WeChat post on Monday, the company did not share how it would deal with children who flout these rules. But the company did stress that it would prevent that from happening by deploying facial recognition software so that kids will not be able to use accounts held by adults to play.

Tencent Games is the world's second-largest gaming company by revenue. According to its annual report, the company's online games arm brought in about $24 billion (R 364,4 billion) in revenue in 2020, putting it neck in neck with Sony, which netted about $24.4 billion (R 370,9 billion) in gaming-related revenue in the same period. 

Tencent reported that minors only accounted for 0.7% of time spent on domestic games in September — the month after Beijing's announced gaming restrictions — declining from 6.4% a year ago.  

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