Skip to main content
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Canada’s most-awarded newsroom for a reason
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Young Chinese gamers took to social media to express their outrage at new rules that limit their gaming time to just three hours per week, while investors fretted about the long-term impact on the industry.

Authorities argue the restrictions are necessary to stop growing gaming addiction and the People’s Daily, the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper, said the government had to be “ruthless” as online games impair normal study life and the physical and mental health of teens.

The curbs are part of Beijing’s efforts to promote the primacy of socialism and strengthen controls over society it now views as having become too lax after years of laissez-faire growth for the tech sector and other industries.

Story continues below advertisement

Young gamers were, however, angry.

“This group of grandfathers and uncles who make these rules and regulations, have you ever played games? Do you understand that the best age for e-sports players is in their teens?” said one comment on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

“Sexual consent at 14, at 16 you can go out to work but you have to be 18 to play games. This is really a joke.”

While the hit to gaming stocks was relatively measured as children do not provide much revenue for gaming companies, analysts noted that the implications for the long-term growth of the industry were much more severe.

“The root of the problem here is not the immediate revenue impact,” said Mio Kato, an analyst who publishes on SmartKarma. “The problem is that this move destroys the entire habit-forming nature of playing games at an early age.”

There was also relief that the regulations did not go further.

“What the industry is really afraid of is if the government stops approving new games like they did in 2018,” said a Beijing-based private equity investor, referring to a nine-month period when China suspended approvals of new video game titles as part of an overhaul of the regulatory bodies that oversee the sector.

Story continues below advertisement

“The new policy is not the worst thing that could have happened,” said the investor, who declined to identified given the sensitivity of the topic.

ONUS ON GAMING COMPANIES

Shares in Tencent, the world’s largest gaming firm by revenue, initially slid but ended up 3 per cent, with analysts noting it had already imposed additional limits on gaming for minors earlier this month.

Krafton Inc., a South Korean company that earns fees by providing services for a similar game to its blockbuster PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) to Tencent, finished 1 per cent lower.

Tokyo-listed Nexon and Koei Tecmo joined NetEase, which is traded in United States and Hong Kong, in losing more than 3 per cent.

The new rules place the onus on implementation on the gaming industry and are not laws per se that would punish individuals for infractions. Kids can often circumvent rules that require the use of their real names and national identification numbers when signing into games by using the login details of adult family members.

“This is a family education issue, not a gaming issue,” said a 17-year-old gamer who wanted to be known only by her surname Luan.

Story continues below advertisement

But some parents like Li Tong, a hotel manager in Beijing with a 14-year-old daughter, were heartened by the new rules.

“My daughter is glued to her phone after dinner every day for one to two hours and it’s difficult for me or her mother to stop her,” he said.

“We told her it’s bad for her eyes and it’s a waste of her time, but she won’t listen.”

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies