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Tencent weighs kids games ban after ‘spiritual opium’ rebuke

Bloomberg
Bloomberg8/3/2021 07:56 PM GMT+08  • 5 min read
Tencent weighs kids games ban after ‘spiritual opium’ rebuke
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Tencent Holdings Ltd. led a stocks rout after Chinese state media decried the “spiritual opium” of games, prompting the company to broach a ban for kids and triggering fears Beijing will set its sights next on the world’s largest gaming arena.

China’s most valuable corporation joined rivals from NetEase Inc to Nexon Co in a gaming selloff after an outlet run by the Xinhua News Agency published a blistering critique of their industry. The Economic Information Daily cited a student as saying some schoolmates played Tencent’s Honor of Kings -- one of its most popular titles -- eight hours a day and called for stricter controls over time spent. The online link to the post was removed hours later without explanation -- then restored to the paper’s website late in the day but with narcotics references stripped out.

Tencent then followed up with a pledge to further limit play time for minors -- to just an hour during weekdays and no more than two hours during vacations and holidays. That’s a step up from restrictions imposed by China’s gaming watchdog in 2019. It also plans to forbid in-game purchases for under 12-year-olds, starting with its signature title. And more dramatically, the company broached the possibility of the industry banning games altogether for those under the age of 12, without elaborating.

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