Mobile gaming

No dishonour in Honour of Kings: Tencent rating system to rein in cheating and reward ‘civilised’ players

Players’ behaviour is analysed to give them a credit rating, which can translate into higher scores in games

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 10:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 December, 2017, 10:03pm

Chinese internet giant Tencent, owner of the world’s highest-grossing video game, Honour of Kings, has introduced a rating system for video game players in what it said was an effort to curb cheating, shortly after it brought in a broader credit scoring system in an attempt to keep up with rivals.

The largest gaming company in the world by revenue said on its website that the system evaluates several aspects of a gamer’s behaviour to give them a credit score. Spending more money in games and reporting cheating by others would also help elevate the credit status, which would be evaluated on a monthly basis, it said.

The system aimed to “encourage players to maintain civilised and healthy gaming behaviour,” the company said. It did not specify how the scores would impact game users and did not give further details. It did not immediately reply to a request for further comment.

Here’s why Tencent’s Honour of Kings has 200 million players

Tencent brought in a credit scoring system for users of all of its services last month, some two years after its main rival, Alibaba Group Holding, launched one for users of its mobile payments subsidiary Ant Financial.

Credit scoring systems are useful because they allow companies to reduce risks while using the huge amounts of data they collect on consumers for promotional and advertising purposes.

Honour of Kings already has some 200 million users in China, giving Tencent access to a lot of data, and last month it said it would distribute the popular shooting game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in China. The game, developed by South Korea’s Bluehole Studio, has accumulated over 20 million players worldwide since its debut in March.

Tencent has faced criticism in China over its games, and in July imposed limits on playing times for younger users of Honour of Kings in response to a public outcry over game addiction.

Analysts said the credit system for games may exacerbate the situation.

“According to our tests, the amount of money spent on games plays a bigger role in deciding a user’s credit scores. So the system may have an adverse effect to what was originally intended,” said Chen Xiaohuan, an analyst at Beijing-based iResearch.

He noted though the system remains preliminary as it currently only assesses gamers logged in with a QQ account, not through Tencent’s more widely used WeChat service.

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Gaming revenues are one of the key contributors to Tencent’s growth, accounting for 47 per cent of its almost 152 billion yuan (US$22.95 billion) in revenue last year. The popularity of Honour of Kings helped it report a 69 per cent jump in net profit for the three months to September this year, with revenue from smartphone gaming growing 84 per cent to 18.2 billion yuan during the period.

Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.