Chinese Gamers Will Soon Need ID to Play Tencent Games

Tencent
FILE PHOTO: Visitors use their smartphones underneath the logo of Tencent at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing May 6, 2014.
(Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo)

As part of its effort to woo government regulators, tech company Tencent recently announced that it will require gamers to provide IDs in order to access and play its games. The IDs will be used to prove their ages and identities, and then cross check it with police records. Tencent said that under this new system, gamers will have to register using their Chinese national IDs in order to play their games.

Tencent confirmed that 10 of its mobile games will be subject to this new verification system before the end of the year. The company added that all games in its library will be subjected to the new verification system by next year. Among the most popular games on Tencent's library are "League of Legends" and "PlayUnknown's Battlegrounds."

In the past, Tencent has received a lot of criticism from People's Daily, China's state-run newspaper publication. The newspaper tagged Tencent's game "Arena of Valor" as "poison" following reports claiming that students are ditching their homework in favor of playing the mobile video game. "Arena of Valor" is one of the most popular titles in China, claiming to have hundreds of thousands of users every month.

Tencent was also the target of direct regulatory pressure recently. This came after Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a statement that too many children in the country are near-sighted due to playing too much video games. Following this statement, Chinese regulators immediately put a ban on the release of new video games, a move that cost Tencent up to $1.5 billion in revenue and putting a halt to the company's upcoming release of new titles.

As part of its compliance to regulatory pressure, Tencent imposed a new verification system for "Arena of Valor" in September. The new system has a feature that blurs the screen if players look too closely to it. Tencent claims that the system had been added to the game since last year, and it only enforces it lately.

Additional regulations imposed by Tencent include barring gamers 12 years old and under from playing its titles for more than an hour a day and imposing a curfew starting 9 PM. Those who are 13 to 18 years old are allowed to play up to two hours a day.

China is considered one of the biggest gaming markets in the world with over 600 million mobile gamers. This means that Tencent, which is the country's biggest tech company, would need to check hundreds of millions of players constantly in order to properly impose its new system.

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