China easing gaming crackdown?

In Amit and I’s presentation about video game regulation, we briefly discussed China’s gaming regulatory regime. China has some of the strictest video game regulation in the world. As discussed in class last week, China restricts the amount of time minors can play video games, with youth gamers only being able to play 3 hours per week. Chinese companies uses facial recognition and registration to enforce these measures.

It was interesting to see yesterday that soon after posting our presentation, several articles announced that Beijing is showing signs of easing its intense crackdown on the video game sector. A report published by a key Chinese industry body praised China’s progress on reducing gaming addiction among minors. The report found that 75% of young gamers now played for less than three hours a week. Experts posit that the report may be signal of a better outlook for the Chinese gaming sector, with less strict controls on the horizon. In conjunction with the report, Chinese regulators approved a batch of 70 new games for release, another positive signal for the sector given there was previously a freeze on new releases.

However, a more skeptical and perhaps more realistic view finds that this report comes amidst a backdrop of declining gaming revenues in China. Perhaps this announcement is being used to lay the ground work to ease economic hardship in the sector, rather than show a real measure of China’s long-term success in controlling gaming. Despite the signals, it remains to be seen if China will truly ease up its strict regulations in the long term.