Chinese developer restricts game time for mobile hit labelled "poison"
"Don't commit evil."
Chinese internet Goliath Tencent has rationed the amount of time children can play its hugely popular mobile hit Honor of Kings amid fears young people were becoming addicted to the game.
In order "to dispel parents' worries", Tencent will add stronger age verification, but it's already added restrictions on the amount of time under 18s can spend playing the game. Players under 12 are limited to one hour of gameplay each day, while those aged between 12 and 18 are limited to two hours a day. The company also stopped users under 12 from playing after 9pm.
"There are no rules to prevent indulgence in online games in China, but we decided to be the first to try to dispel parental worries by limiting play time and forcing children to log off," Tencent said on its official WeChat social media account, as reported by the South China Morning Post.
These harsh new rules come amid complaints from parents and teachers that children in China are becoming addicted to the fantasy MOBA. The state-run People's Daily even described the game as "poison", resulting in Tencent stock plummeting considerably.
"Don't commit evil," the People's Daily wrote (via the South China Morning Post). "As a company that does good for the world, we will get better rewards in the long run even if we want to sacrifice some short-term profits."
Honor of Kings has over 200m users, according to Tencent, with most of its players in China. It's currently the top grossing mobile game in the world, making Honor of Kings more popular than global phenomenon Pokémon Go. Tencent also own a majority stake in Riot Games, developer of League of Legends.
This isn't the first time a restriction has been placed on games to discourage children from playing excessively. In 2011, South Korea put a law in place to stop children under 16 from playing online games between midnight and 6am.