Another sign that Beijing may be gearing up to facilitate its progress crackdown on the games industry (opens in new tab), China’s largest gaming industry association today released a report declaring that the problem of gaming addiction among Chinese youth has “basically been solved”. Well, I guess that wasn’t that hard, was it?
The Financial Times (opens in new tab) reports that the Chinese Game Industry Group Committee – which is affiliated with the Chinese government’s gambling regulator – found that 70% of China’s minors now play games for less than three hours a week. That’s after the The Chinese government has restricted young people under the age of 18 from playing online games for just one hour (opens in new tab) one day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday back in 2021.
The news comes on the heels of an editorial in the government-owned People’s Daily last week (opens in new tab), arguing that China could not afford to ignore video games when its rivals in the EU and the US offered them “extremely high economic, technological, cultural and even strategic value”. Chinese gaming stocks rose, with the editorial seen as a sign that Beijing was about to soften its previously tough stance on games and the wider tech industry. With the publication of this report, it seems they may have been right.
The atmosphere in the offices of Tencent and NetEase must be a potent mix of fear and excitement. China’s largest and most recognizable game companies have endured the worst of the government’s neglect policy: difficulty getting their games approved and – in the case of Tencent –lose the position of China’s most valuable company to a liquor company (opens in new tab). I can only imagine there are a lot of white knuckles on those companies right now as they wait for the rug to be pulled out from under them.
Experts who spoke to the FT said that while there will be fewer approvals and censorship will be stricter compared to the years before the crackdown, they expect the freeze on game approvals to end from early 2023. week that it was now “fully compliant” with Chinese regulations and expected more approvals in the future.