What’s your Gameplan?
China announced further restrictions on minors online gametime this month but are tougher restrictions on gametime really going to make a difference when it comes to the growing phenomenon that is the gaming industry?
On the 1st of September China announced a stricter control of gaming hours for minors under the age of 18. Under the new policy anyone under the age of 18 will be limited to playing online games between 8-9pm on weekend (including Friday) and legal holidays. The policy requires all minors to use their real name and credentials when signing into online accounts and ensure they are connected to the online game anti-addiction real-name verification system. Any online gaming company found providing a service to users not following these procedures will be in breach of the new legislation.
This isn’t the first restrictions on gametime posed by China in recent years, in 2019 they banned minors from playing games after 10pm and for more than 90 minutes a day but this new restriction cuts gametime down to just 3 hours a week in total. Tencent’s share price dropped nearly 3% after the new rule was announced last week but with Q2 2021 seeing only 2.6% of their revenue reported from under 16-year-olds this will only affect a small part of their business. The interesting dilemma they face isn’t on the immediate financial reduction but the risk of long-term revenue declines as the restrictions stop the habit-forming nature of playing games at an early age, potentially reducing time and money spent on gaming as these minors get older.
Currently only online gaming is limited in China for minors so with users still about to spend time offline honing their skills is it really going to be able to stop the growing popularity of gaming in the country. If we look globally the gaming industry was reported to be worth $159bn in 2020, boasting 2.7bn gamers and these numbers are forecast to grow to $200bn and 3bn by 2023. Just like TV, and radio before that, gaming is an entertainment channel that’s here to stay and one that’s impossible to ignore in today’s society.