The South China Morning Post quoted people familiar with the matter as saying on Thursday that China has suspended the approval of all new online games to curb young people’s addiction to games.
According to the report, the decision was announced at a meeting between Chinese authorities and industry giants Tencent and NetEase, adding that it is not yet clear how long the suspension will last.
Beijing called on game companies including Tencent and NetEase on Wednesday.
Tencent declined to comment. NetEase did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
China took action in August to ban young people under 18 from playing video games for more than three hours a week, saying that this is necessary to curb the increasing addiction to what it once described as “mental opium”.
The new regulations are part of a major shift in Beijing to strengthen its control over society and key economic sectors (including technology, education, and real estate) after years of uncontrolled growth.
These restrictions apply to any device, including mobile phones, and are a heavy blow to the global gaming industry, which caters to tens of millions of young players in the world’s most lucrative market.
According to Xinhua News Agency, they only restrict children under the age of 18 from playing for one hour a day-from 8pm to 9pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They can also play for an hour at the same time on public holidays.
The regulations of the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) regulators coincided with Beijing’s broader suppression of Chinese technology giants such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.
© Thomson Reuters 2021