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Published: September 8, 2021

Written by: Stefan Velikov

At the end of August, the Chinese government rolled out new regulations restricting minors from playing more than three hours during weekdays and only one hour during the weekend and holidays. Naturally, workarounds have already popped up. 

Tencent Crack Down on Online Account Trading Platforms

Tencent is China’s largest telecommunications company. Founded in 1998, some of its possessions include the instant messengers Tencent QQ and WeChat, hugely popular in China. It also owns a large part of China’s music industry with Tencent music, with more than 700 million active users and 120 million paying subscribers. On top of all that, it is also the largest video game vendor in the world, and here comes the clash with many e-trading platforms. 

People’s Daily, a Chinese government newspaper, reported that the company has already sued more than 20 e-commerce sites for renting out accounts for the game Honor of Kings. Honor of Kings is a MOBA game and also the most popular mobile game in China, averaging over one hundred million players a day.

Naturally, with the combination of such popularity and the new restrictions, there comes a market for methods to circumvent said restrictions. One popular method that has surged in popularity merely days after the new regulations came into effect on September 1 is the renting of accounts. 

In order for a minor to play, they have to use their real name for their account. However, what does one do after their time expires and they get automatically logged off? Well, they can just rent an account, with prices starting at 33 yuan (about $5) for two hours of playtime. 

Tencent Introduces a Time-sensitive Facial Recognition System 

Like something out of a science fiction flick, one of the ways Tencent is trying to combat the use of rental accounts is by using a time-sensitive facial recognition system, dubbed “Midnight Patrol.”

The way the system works is that for accounts registered with real names, there will be face screenings between 10 pm and 8 am. If the player refuses to do the scan or fails to be on time, they will be kicked from the game and sent offline.

It is still unknown how widespread the use of rental accounts has been, and it is too early to say if the practice will continue, perhaps with even greater intensity. Whatever more regulations, there may be one thing is certain – people will find a way to bend the rules. 

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