Tencent Plans New Restrictions After Criticism From China’s State Media

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Tencent: Shares of Chinese game giant Tencent and other Chinese game makers devalued on the Hong Kong stock exchange after Chinese state media ran an article saying video games are “spiritual opium” and “electronic drugs.” Investors fear the Beijing government will decide to create limitations or bans on the gaming market.

Only at Tencent the drop was 11% this Tuesday (03), a loss and so much for a billionaire company. The article was deleted from the online version of the Chinese newspaper, but it’s still in print — and the damage is already done, right? Officially, the debate is about limiting underage players and avoiding addictions, something Tencent seems willing to do.

What’s the deal with the Chinese government?

We know that Beijing bureaucrats like — how can we say … — to have control over the content that the Chinese consume. Sometimes some games end up being banned in China because of this and the consoles themselves were only allowed a few years ago. But with 1.5 billion people, the market there is the biggest in the world.

Putting these factors together, the fear that the government will decide to create laws against games makes any investor tremble at the base. And the tone of the article published in The Economic Information Daily was not very friendly: it talked about students “addicted” to Honor of Kings (which, you see, is from Tencent!), who spend more than eight hours a day dedicated to the game . There he used the terms “spiritual opium” and “electronic drug” to refer to games, calling for the government to enact laws to limit that time.

An “aggressive” choice of words, according to analysts polled by the business portal Bloomberg. But maybe the problem is not so apocalyptic…

Limitations, but only for minors

The fall in shares is worrisome, of course, as investors do not know what the Beijing government’s next steps will be. However, everything indicates so far, the focus is to avoid exaggeration by minors. Also, as Tencent is already taking some steps in this direction, it is quite possible that the government will give them a break.

In recent years, the Chinese giant has promised to limit the time at games for minors: one hour during the week and two hours on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Children under 12 can’t buy in-game items — and there’s facial recognition to prevent some smartass from trying to use their parent’s account. They’re even thinking about banning children under 12 from the platforms altogether.

Of course, some people might argue that this time constraint should come from parents or guardians—not the government. But then we get into another debate: the issue is that Tencent is taking some actions to avoid further losses and closed the day with “only” 6% less in shares.

Meanwhile, here in Brazil, who have no law to limit our time in games, can play as much as they want. It says: how many hours do you spend playing per day?

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