Tencent makes age verification mandatory to play blockbuster game Honour of Kings
- The Shenzhen-based internet giant plans to roll out this process nationwide, adding its other popular games
Tencent Holdings, which runs the world’s largest video games business by revenue, has made it mandatory for players in nine Chinese cities including Beijing to verify their age to log into mobile game Honour of Kings, while pushing for restricted playing time for minors to protect them from becoming addicted to online gaming.
That identification process, which Tencent implemented on Thursday in Beijing, verifies the information provided against the police database. Those who fail verification will be prohibited from logging into the blockbuster multiplayer online battle game, which has more than 200 million users. On Friday, the company extended the authentication to eight more cities.
Shenzhen-based Tencent plans to expand its compulsory age verification system nationwide and include its other popular games, the company said in a statement released on Thursday.
The latest move by Tencent updated a system it launched last month to verify the identities of new Honour of Kings players by cross-referencing with public security databases. The company said it was the first time such data has been used by the gaming industry to screen users.
Tencent started to connect the information of existing users with the public security authority’s database from October 16.
The Hong Kong-listed company’s more stringent controls over underage gamers come amid Beijing’s call to protect children’s health, with the government blaming the country’s widespread myopia on the playing of video games.
China’s Ministry of Education in August announced a plan to curb the number of new online games and limit playing time to protect the eyesight of children. That followed a series of measures introduced last year to restrict playtime for Honour of Kings’ young users, after a top state newspaper criticised the game as “poison”.
Last month, Tencent started testing facial recognition technology in Beijing and Shenzhen with some 1,000 new users of Honour of Kings selected to verify their identities through camera checks.
Players detected as minors will be included in the game’s anti-addiction system. This limits the playtime of users under 12 years old to one hour, while those aged 12 to 18 can play for two hours.
Honour of Kings was the highest-grossing mobile game last year, generating US$1.9 billion in revenue, according to research firm SuperData.
Founded by billionaire Pony Ma Huateng, Tencent also dominates China’s internet and media landscape with its instant-messaging software service QQ and social media platform WeChat, which saw monthly active users top 1 billion earlier this year.