NOTICE: preventing minors from indulging in online games

A curfew and time restrictions for gamers under 18 in China

Jon Peddie



The authors of the Notice say its purpose is to “resolutely curb indulging and protect the healthy growth of young people.” The Notice was published by China's  State Press and Publication Administration answered the “Notice on Preventing Minors from Indulging in Online Games.”

Chinese officials have issued an edict, or what they're calling The Notice, in an effort to reduce the time minors spend on online gaming.  The Notice says such activity negatively affects the health and learning of minors. Official guidelines recently released define curfew and time restrictions for gamers under 18.

The NOTICE lists Six measures designed to prevent minors “from indulging in online games,” including a ban on online video games for minors between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. 

It is stipulated that the game service shall not be provided for minors from 22 o'clock to 8 o'clock the next day. The statutory holidays shall not exceed 3 hours per day, and the other days shall not exceed 1.5 hours per day.

The NOTICE also regulates how much can be spent on-line by one’s age. The third [rule] is to regulate the provision of paid services to minors, stipulating that online game companies may not provide game payment services for users under the age of 8; game payment services provided by the same online game company, minors under the age of 8 and under 16 years of age Users, the single recharge amount should not exceed 50 yuan (~$7.15), the monthly recharge amount must not exceed 200 yuan (~$28.59); for 16-year-old or younger users, the single recharge amount should not exceed 100 yuan, and the monthly recharge amount must not exceed 400 (~$57.18) Yuan Renminbi.

Market research firm Niko Partners projected digital game revenue in China would reach $33 billion in 2019, making the East Asian country one of the world's largest video game markets. 

Not just kids. China's new directives implicate adult gamers too. A state spokesperson says that everyone, regardless of age, is prohibited from playing games that depict “sexual explicitness, goriness, violence, and gambling.”

Registration required. Chinese officials will also require everyone to register accounts for online games using their real name and phone number, which will help government entities to regulate playing time. National Press and Publication Administration is docking with the Ministry of Public Security to lead the construction of a unified identification system to provide game users with identification services for game companies to accurately verify the identity information of minors.

What do we think?

Part of the objectives of the Notice is to prevent children from becoming addicted to gaming, or other harmful on-line services, including gambling.

Those, of course, are worthy ambitions. The methodology is harsh, but not unfamiliar in China where control of the massive population is paramount to the ruling class.

We think this move could have the unintended consequence of driving  sales for downloadable games and force some players from on-line to single-player offline games augmented perhaps with either on-line chat, or text messaging something like remote chess playing or Battleship. It will slow gameplay, but still allow for playing with one’s friends.

The Notice doesn’t specify platform, just on-line so presumably that covers PCs, consoles, phones, and tablets. But it probably doesn’t cover arcade machines or casinos.