China has temporarily suspended approval for all new online games in a bid to curb a gaming addiction among young people, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday citing people with knowledge of the matter.
The decision was revealed at a meeting between Chinese authorities and industry giants Tencent and NetEase, the report said, adding that it was not clear until when the suspension would last.
Beijing on Wednesday had summoned gaming firms including Tencent and NetEase.
Tencent declined to comment. NetEase did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.
China moved in August to ban under-18s from playing video games for more than three hours a week, saying this was needed to curb a growing addiction to what it once described as “spiritual opium”.
The new rules are part of a major shift by Beijing to strengthen control over its society and key sectors of its economy, including tech, education, and property, after years of runaway growth.
The restrictions, which apply to any devices including phones, are a body blow to a global gaming industry that caters to tens of millions of young players in the world’s most lucrative market.
They limit under-18s to playing for one hour a day — 8pm to 9pm — on only Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, according to the Xinhua state news agency. They can also play for an hour, at the same time, on public holidays.
The rules from the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) regulator coincide with a broader clampdown by Beijing against China’s tech giants, such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.
© Thomson Reuters 2021