China has introduced a new three hour per week gaming restriction on people under the age of 18. How will this new restriction on the gaming time of China’s youth affect their future esports performance?
The National Press and Publication Administration, the national watchdog for gaming and online media announced on Monday that would be limiting the total gaming time for players under the age of 18.
The new ban has established some pretty strict restrictions on gaming time. Anyone under the age of 18 can only play one hour on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and statutory holidays. Even then, that hour must be between 8pm and 9pm.
To enforce this ban, the government is requiring all gaming companies to institute real name verification systems for all of their services. This is a response to national allegations that many young people were using adult IDs to circumvent the previous rulings. All of these gaming companies have been told to stop providing services to children outside of the newly announced times and days. The government has also stated that they will be increasing their inspections of the companies to ensure that these new regulations will be upheld.
According to a spokesperson for the National Press and Publication Administration, this ban was focused on curbing addiction. Early last month, a state media outlet claimed that video games were “spiritual opium”. In this recent announcement they said the new rules were enacted to “effectively protect the physical and mental health of minors” as well as stating that they will “always prioritize the social good and actively respond to societal concerns”.
Oh boy, this is going to decimate the esports industry in China over the next few years. They will probably remain steady for a while. The country still has enough players over the age of 18 to maintain at a decent level. However, once they age out of the scene, how many young players will be there to replace them?
It’s like walking into a training center for the Olympics and announcing that any athlete under the age of 18 can only practice for three hours a week. If China put that regulation in place, I doubt that they would be top of the leader board in 2024. It may be good if you want to curb addictions to games that encourage spending on micro-transactions, but for anything else, it just seems short sighted.
The average age of an esports pro in China is 20. That is average, many players in the scene are already under the age of 18 and the ban is already having an effect on Chinese esports. The League of Legends Development League, the feeder league for the League of Legends Pro League in China has already announced that they are barring players under the age of 18 from competing.
As of today, their semi-final games are postponed, and many other events have been cancelled. We don’t think that this is last esports event to be disrupted by the new rules.