Tencent has begun enforcing real-name verification for all players of its mobile multiplayer hit “Honour of Kings” (known as “Arena of Valor” outside of China) as part of a revamp of the gaming system.
The upgrade connects the game with China’s public security database to better enforce rules, including those limiting the amount of time minors can spend playing, according to Tencent.
The system will stop those who do not verify their identity in time from logging in. Children under 12 years old will be limited to playing one hour a day between 8 am and 9 pm. Minors over 12 will be restricted to two hours a day. Individuals awaiting approval will be subject to the same limits imposed on those under 12 years old.
Tencent has been focussing on the gaming habits of minors amid increased government scrutiny of video game publishers. Regulators previously criticized the company for its perceived contribution to video game addiction in minors. In June, Party mouthpiece People’s Daily blasted Tencent, referring to “Honour of Kings” as “poison” and said greater regulation of social games is needed.
As a result, Tencent has introduced a number of measures to curb excessive underage usage. In addition to time limits, the company added a feature that notifies account holders when a suspected minor’s in-game spending reaches RMB 500 a month, as well as greater parental controls.
Despite this, a broader crackdown on cultural content has seen the company’s gaming revenue plunge, while the sector witnessed its slowest first-half growth in ten years. The company’s second-quarter profits fell for the first time since 2005, in part, due to the removal of popular titles. The company was forced to remove blockbuster “Monster Hunter: World” from its WeGame platform—wiping out $15 billion from its market value— and shut down its popular poker game “Texas Hold’Em”.
In addition, it had to alter “PlayerUnknown Battleground“ (PUBG) last year before it was allowed to distribute it as it was deemed too violent.
China’s gaming industry as a whole has suffered as the Communist Party’s propaganda department has taken over licensing new online games. Approvals of new titles have slowed amid regulatory restructuring, with no new licenses being approved in the past six months.