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Published: August 31, 2021

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • China calls video gaming “spiritual opium” and imposes tight restrictions on gaming in the country
  • The current gaming hours will change to just one hour per day from Friday through Sunday and on holidays
  • The measure only applies to individuals under the age of 18 and the rest of the gamers are exempt from it

China is enforcing new, tighter measures on gaming in the country, limiting all Under-18 gaming to just three hours a week.

Gaming in China Takes a Huge Hit with New Curfew

Just a week or so after South Korea lifted a ten-year curfew on gaming China has strengthened its hold on underage gamers in the country. According to the Chinese government, nobody under the age of 18 will be allowed to play for more than three hours per week.

Authorities have been adamant that a wave of gaming addiction has washed over the country and video games have been called “spiritual opium.” The move reflects a broader ambition by Beijing to strengthen key societal areas of development, including education, the economy, tech, and more.

China’s decision, whose population represents one of the biggest gaming audiences in the world, will surely send ripples across the entire gaming industry. The measure applies to smartphones as well as computers and consoles, meaning that the time gamers can spend per week will significantly decrease.

Many might even become dissatisfied with the limitations and give up on gaming altogether. Gaming will only be allowed on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, between 8 pm and 9 pm. Public holidays will also permit players to connect and game. In a single fell swoop, the announcement wiped “tens of billions of dollars off shares,” Reuters reported commenting on the announcement.

Wiping Off Esports Stocks in a Heartbeat

Companies such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings will be the most severely affected. The government, though, believes these companies have achieved “savage growth” over the years at the expense of teenagers, the “future of our motherlands,” as per Xinhua, the official state news agency.

“Protecting the physical and mental health of minors is related to the people’s vital interests, and relates to the cultivation of the younger generation in the era of national rejuvenation,” the announcement ran. The recent measure drastically scales down the available gaming time from 1.5 hours on any day, and three hours on holidays, to just three hours per week.

Based on Newzoo, a company that focuses on analyzing the global gaming and esports markets, China is expected to generate $45.6 billion from the game market in 2021. However, the new ban will drastically reduce the outlook for coming years.

Companies in the country have been actively trying to assist the government, potentially anticipating the measure. Tencent committed a lot of effort to restrict access of young children to its leading games in the country, including Honor of Kings. The mobile MOBA game has some 100 million average players a day. Meanwhile, NetEase and Bilibli lost 6% and 3% of their stock value at the time of the original reporting.

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