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Tencent reiterates commitment to fight video game addiction among Chinese youth

Analyst firm CGIGC estimates there are 530 million video game users in China- 38% of the total population.

Nov 9, 2018 by A. Alfaro
Tencent reiterates commitment to fight video game addiction among Chinese youth

Following a government crackdown, Tencent (腾讯) has implemented a series of measures to keep the video game addiction of Chinese users in check. Gamers are now required to register with the Ministry of Public Security to access the tech giant's most popular game, King of Glory (王者荣耀), failing which, the accounts of the users would be blocked. Tencent said the entire product line would soon come under the purview of the new policy.

Tencent, on November 6, brought together Samsung, Huawei, Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi in an event to find solutions to tackle the smartphone addiction. Yang Tao, vice president of Huawei Consumer BG Software Strategic and Technical Cooperation, emphasized the role manufacturers can play in fighting the scourge. He expressed his willingness to share valuable data with the industry and said Huawei does not put business first when it comes to children's health.

The event came in the wake of an ongoing debate in China in the last few months. Such forums threw light on the debilitating effects of video games like Kings of Glory on Chinese youth. Analyst firm CGIGC estimates there are 530 million video game users in China- 38% of the total population.

"We have implemented measures that ensure long-term stability for this industry,” said Ma Xiaoyi, vice chairman of Tencent. Of the 93 million students in the primary schools in China, only a third or fourth own a smartphone, and hence the number of children addicted to video games should be very small, he said.

Until 2015, video game consoles were banned in China enabling smartphone manufacturers to establish a dictatorial footing in the industry. According to a report by CGIGC, 60% of gamers use phones while 0.4% use consoles or other devices to play video games.

Tencent's income from the video game segment dropped in the face of tighter regulations from Beijing . In August, the government announced plans to restrict the number of video games flooding the market and took steps to curb the game time to address the worrying rates of childhood visual impairment. The company's revenue from smartphone video games fell by 19% in the second quarter of 2018.

Tencent has undergone a restructuring of late. Film and animation production divisions have become independent of interactive entertainment department (IEG) and a PCG (platform and content group) department has been created. Now, only video game and e-commerce verticals remain under the IEG department.

Ma said new structure would facilitate the IEG department to better focus on the development of video games and the cultivation and development of e-sports. "Our determination and investment in both directions will not change," he added.

According to Ma, there is still a big room for development in the video games sector, “thanks to the newest algorithms and the possibilities of interaction with digital content”. However, he said the government’s recent regulations might have caused some decline in the company’s income from video games. He chalked it up to an error in reading the financial data as the Tencent has released only 10 new video games so far as opposed to last years’ 50.

A. Alfaro

A. Alfaro is a Beijing-based freelance reporter. He focuses on China's politics, culture and society. He can be reached at varofaro@gmail.com. 

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