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Tencent will check the ages of all its gamers

Posted at 10:24 AM, Nov 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-05 22:32:11-05

Tencent will check the identities of all its gamers in China by 2019 with the aim of limiting the hours young people spend playing.

The tech conglomerate announced the sweeping new rules for its hundreds of millions of customers on Monday. It will check gamers’ IDs against police databases and block any accounts it can’t verify.

Tencent is responding to the Chinese government’s increased scrutiny of video games. China claims it wants to reduce the incidence of nearsightedness in children and adolescents.

In a practice called “health system,” Tencent said customer accounts will be “forcibly verified with real-name police system” to ensure people are who they claim to be. Unverified accounts won’t be allowed to sign in.

Tencent piloted the new system for Honor of Kings, a hugely popular mobile game that it released in 2017. The new rules will be enforced on nine more of its mobile games by the end of this year, before being extended to all mobile and PC games in 2019.

To tackle concerns about video game addiction, Tencent is capping players under 12 to one hour per day and not letting them play from 9 pm to 8 am. The company will also enforce a two-hour limit on users between 12 and 18 years old.

Tencent shares slipped in Hong Kong, closing down nearly 4%.

The Chinese media and tech company is having a rough year. In August, the China’s Education Ministry said it wanted to “control” how many new games come online. The government also said it will look into setting up a system to remind people about which games are appropriate for different age groups.

Tencent reported a rare decline in profit in August, blaming the drop mainly on regulators not approving licenses for new games.

The stock has lost nearly 30% of its value since the beginning of the year.