The Chinese government has begun rolling out its real-name authentication system for video games nationwide, while also removing over 15,000 unlicensed games from the Chinese App store.
As previously reported, the Chinese government have been implementing numerous methods to prevent children becoming addicted to video games, or developing myopia.
These included laws banning under 18s from playing online games between 10 pm and 8 am, in addition to a 90 minute per-day restriction (or three hours per-day at weekends and public holidays). In addition, there are restrictions on what 16 to 18 year-olds can spend in online games, up to 400 yuan ($57) per month, with younger players restricted to 200 yuan ($29) per month.
Another law includes the expansion of real-name registration, where children must use not just their parent’s phone to register an account, but now a form of “valid identity information.” Both Tencent and NetEase reportedly begun using their own verification systems.
Now, South China Morning Post reports the real-name registration for video games is being expanded to nationwide, and with every video game. The authentication system aims to be rolled out in September.
Citing state-run media reports (and in the South China Morning Post’s words); Feng Shixin, an official of the Communist Party’s Central Publicity Department, spoke on the matter during the ChinaJoy gaming expo on August 31st. He stated developers will be asked to join up to the system in batches.
Chinese developers were further compounded by 15,000 unlicensed games being removed from the Chinese App Store since July 1st, in preparation of an August 1st deadline. This was due to those games lacking ISBNs from the Chinese National Press and Publication Administration (granting them permission to be sold in the nation).
Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad explained to Venture Beat that while 97 of the top 100 grossing games on the Chinese App Store are licenced, 50 of the top 100 downloaded games are unlicensed. Until now, this was a possible work-around to the strict censorship laws.
Speaking on Twitter, Ahmad explained the real-name registration was to “identify people under 18 and apply various anti addiction systems such as time / spending caps fo [sic] those accounts. Also to control the gaming market more closely.”
The earliest efforts by the Chinese government pre-date the World Health Organizations classification of “gaming disorder.” A study by Oxford University found no evidence to support the classification. Neuroscientist Nastasia Griffioen of Radbound University also warned against labeling gamers as addicts, due to “very little evidence“ of video games being addictive.