Online Gaming in Chinese Scrutiny

Publish: 04.09.2018

In an effort to curb increasing rates of childhood visual impairment, the Chinese government is planning to restrict the number of video games in the country. The authorities do not want to expose minors to the online gaming market and curb overall gaming time.

In a statement issued on the Education Ministry website last week, the authorities justified their steps and said that the measures will help prevent near-sightedness in minors. President Xi Jinping called for greater attention on optical health earlier in the week, which lead to the decision.

Official studies conclude that the rate of myopia or near-sightedness is growing in younger children in the country. Strict study routines in school and excessive screen time were found to be the primary reasons behind it.

A similar case was presented by the national vision report of 2015 which claimed that over 500 million Chinese, comprising of 50% of the populace over five years of age, have visual impairment issues. Of these, 450 million were experiencing near-sightedness at an increasing rate. This visual impairment cost China $100 billion in 2012 alone.

Seven other government ministries endorsed the education’s ministry’s proposal of cutting down online gaming time. It aims to “implement regulations and controls” on new releases in the market and control the number of games a user can play online. In addition to this, games could come with age restrictions, and there could be additional regulations on reducing the number of hours minors spend gaming. However, the proposal doesn’t come with specifics or a designated timeline.

The news adversely affected the market and shares of Tencent slumped by more than five percent in Hong Kong. Tencent is a Chinese internet giant and the leader of the country’s gaming sector. Perfect World Co, a game developing company formerly listed on NASDAQ in the US witnessed a nine percent decrease in share prices in Shenzhen. The Shenzhen exchange, which features a plethora of tech stocks experienced a plunge in share prices of several smaller game developers.

China has the biggest online gaming market in the world, and the recent efforts by the government do not appear to have such a straightforward agenda. Tencent was ordered to pull down Monster Hunter: World from sale, just days after it debuted earlier this month. The government has not updated its list of approved new titles since May. Media reports suggest that new approvals for online, console and mobile casinos have been stalled for months.