China (Again) Takes Aim At Video Games, Comparing Them To Opium Addiction
The Chinese government is on the attack again, likening video games to opium -- and that could spell trouble for developers in China and abroad.
CNBC is reporting that the stocks of Chinese gaming giants Tencent and NetEase have taken a hit following Chinese state media's calling games addictive and comparing them to the notorious drug, which has a long and sordid history in the country. The article was taken down and reposted a few hours later with the reference removed, but not before Tencent suffered a 6% hit to its stock price and NetEase dropped by 8%.
CNBC said that the article "said that online gaming addiction among children is 'widespread' and could negatively impact their growth." It claimed that more than half of Chinese children were nearsighted and that online games impact their education. It's not the first time we've heard of a link between video games and the eyesight of Chinese youth; a "freeze" on the approval of games in China in 2018 was centered around concerns of myopia, a.k.a. nearsightedness, in players under the age of 18.
In 2018, both NetEase and Tencent took action to limit the amount that young people play their games. It appears that Tencent will now go even farther, limiting game time for under-18s to one hour, or two hours on holidays. It will also forbid children under the age of 12 from spending money in their games, which actually seems like a reasonable measure.
While the CNBC article only mentioned Tencent and NetEase, plenty of non-Chinese gaming companies do business in China as well -- many of them through one of those two companies, granted -- and there's no telling how these new statements from the government will impact them. And then there's Genshin Impact developer MiHoYo, which is based out of Shanghai and not affiliated with either company. In any case, China's a big market for games (and everything else, really), so any time the government talks about restrictions, it likely leads to some significant financial repercussions.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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