Tencent Expanding Age Verification & Time Restrictions Across All Games In 2019

How many hours a day did you spend playing video games when you were a kid? If Tencent's new policy is any guide towards China's emerging gaming regulations, the likely answer to that question for future generations will be precisely '2 hours.'

Earlier this week Tencent, China's largest gaming company and the owner of international hits like League of Legends, Path of Exile, Clash of Clans, and Arena of Valor, announced via social media platform Weibo that they would be expanding their age-verification system across their entire games library by 2019. Until now, it was only the mobile MOBA title Honor of Kings (known as Arena of Valor in the West) that implemented this system.

With Honor of Kings, users 12 and under are restricted to a single hour of playtime per day while those 13-18 get 2 hours of playtime per day. Tencent has not revealed whether the other games in its library will use the same hourly caps or whether playtime will be game-specific or shared across their entire portfolio of games.

Its clear that the Chinese government's game approval freeze and increased interest in the unhealthy side effects of gaming served as Tencent's motivation for the ramped up age verification measures. It remains to be seen whether Tencent's plans are part of broader regulatory measures being written by the government or whether other major companies like NetEase will implement differing standards.

While the game time of adults will not be restricted, a consequence of the age verification process will mean every user's account details will be tied to their real world ID via the government's official police database. Besides raising privacy issues, this will make it much easier for authorities to crack down on hackers and other illegal activity taking place inside these virtual worlds.

Further Reading: Bloomberg, Eurogamer