Tencent has announced that it will expand its player identity verification processes across all its games by the end of 2019.
As reported by Reuters (via GamesIndustry.biz), the move comes after governmental pressure to reduce game addiction, minimise underage players, and curtail short-sightedness. The new legislation, introduced in August, has made it increasingly difficult for Tencent – which, by sales, is the world’s biggest game company – to release new titles or include microtransactions or in-app purchases. Its last release was back in March, pushing its share price down by 28 per cent and reducing the company’s market value by $138 billion.
Without approval for in-app purchases, Tencent has been unable to generate a profit from even its biggest games, such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile.
In September the "healthy gaming" system – which includes time limits for children and facial-recognition ID checks – was trialled with mobile fantasy role-playing game Honor of Kings, but will now be expanded to cover a further nine games by the end of this year, and Tencent’s full portfolio by the close of 2019. The system restricts under 12s’ playtime to just one hour a day between 8am-9pm, while children aged 12 and up are given just two hours.
The move – which also affects other screen time, such as television – was put forward by the Chinese Ministry of Education, with the stated goal of reducing levels of myopia – short sightedness – in the country by more than point-five per cent each year to 2023.
Last month Tencent announced it will be restructuring for the first time in six years following increasing challenges dealing with Chinese governmental regulations for the gaming industry. The megacorp was hit with a fall in profits for the first time in 13 years owing to the very same Chinese regulatory issues that have pushed the decision to restructure.