After calling online games a ‘spiritual opiate’, China says young people have now kicked the habit

In another sign Beijing may be preparing to ease its ongoing crackdown on the games industry (opens in a new tab), China’s leading gaming industry association released a report today stating that the problem of gambling addiction among young Chinese people has been “substantially solved”. Well, I guess it wasn’t that hard, was it?

The Financial Times (opens in a new tab) reports that the China Gaming Industry Group Committee, which is affiliated with the Chinese government gaming regulator, has found that 70% of Chinese minors now play less than three hours of games per week. This is after the Chinese government banned under-18s from playing online games for just one hour. (opens in a new tab) one day on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in 2021.

The news comes on the heels of an editorial that appeared last week in the government-run People’s Daily. (opens in a new tab), arguing that China could not afford to ignore video games when its rivals in the EU and the United States gave them “extremely high economic, technological, cultural and even strategic value”. Chinese gaming stocks rose, taking the editorial as a sign that Beijing was about to soften its previously hardline stance against gaming and the broader tech industry. With the release of this report, it seems they were right.

The atmosphere in the offices of Tencent and NetEase must be a potent mix of apprehension and excitement. China’s largest and most recognizable game companies have endured the worst of the government’s policy of neglect: struggling to win approvals for their games and, in Tencent’s case, losing the position of most valuable company. of China for the benefit of an alcohol company. (opens in a new tab). I can only imagine there are a lot of white fists in these companies right now as they wait to have the rug pulled from under them.

Experts who spoke to the FT said that although overall approvals are lower and censorship tighter compared to the years before the crackdown, they expect to see the freeze on game approvals end from the start. of 2023. Meanwhile, Tencent said in a last week earnings call that it is now “fully compliant” with Chinese regulations and expects to receive more approvals in the future.

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