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August 5, 2021

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Media backs down over gaming

CHINESE state media tempered criticism of the video game in­dustry yesterday, a day after a strongly worded article drove down shares in Tencent Holdings, while still stressing concern over the use of the In­ternet by minors.

The articles followed Tues­day’s report in the Economic Information Daily that called online video games “spiritual opium,” adding, “No industry should be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation.”

The item went viral and re-ig­nited investor fears about state intervention after Beijing had already targeted the education and technology sectors, wip­ing US$60 billion off the share price of gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd at one point.

The phrase “spiritual opium” had been removed in a version the publisher re-posted late on Tuesday.

Yesterday, the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, said in an opinion piece that “all sectors of society” needed to pay attention to, and join in, protecting minors from Inter­net dangers, without assigning blame.

The Securities Daily, which is also state-backed, said in a front-page commentary that while higher requirements needed to be put on video game firms, the industry’s healthy development urgently needed to be promoted.

Shares in Tencent, China’s top gaming firm, rose as much as 5.3 percent yesterday and bounced back to close up 2.42 percent.

But NetEase lost 1.58 percent. And other domestic gaming firms closed mixed.

Tencent is launching mea­sures even stricter than the National Press and Publication Administration’s guidelines on youth online gaming.

Minors between 12 and 16 will be limited to spending 50 yuan (US$7.80) each time, and 200 yuan per month.

Those between 16 and 18 will be limited to 100 yuan for each in-game purchase and 400 yuan a month.

Unregistered players will have only one hour of access every 15 days and will not be eligible for payment.

Companies will also require facial recognition for suspi­cious gamers who play late at night.

NetEase said it’s also remov­ing accounts and postings that are against gaming and social content guidelines.

It will also enhance anti-ad­diction technology measures during the summer break to limit access to gaming, using artificial intelligence and data capabilities to prevent minors using adults’ ID.


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