Tencent has revealed that it will rein in accessibility options it has implemented for minors, following criticism from a state media article that saw $60 billion knocked off the company's valuation.
As reported by Chinese newspaper Economic Information Daily (via Reuters), Tencent’s Honor of Kings was cited when describing how minors are becoming increasingly addicted to online games. In the report, online mobile gaming was likened to a "spiritual opium" and new constraints were called for. The news outlet is associated with Xinhua, China’s largest state-run news agency.
Following the publishing of the article, Tencent’s share price fell more than 10 per cent - plummeting the Chinese tech giant's stock by almost $60 billion. After an announcement from the company to implement new restrictions, share prices crawled back up slightly to an overall decrease of six per cent.
Honor of Kings, known internationally as Arena of Valor, was noted as the most popular online game among students, with some known for playing the MOBA for up to eight hours a day.
Comparing games from Tencent to "electronic drugs", the Chinese Newspaper said that: "No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation".
Tencent has previously confirmed that it would apply new restrictions to games such as Honor of Kings that limit the amount of time that minors spend, prohibit in-game purchases for children under 12 and further prevent minors from playing on adult accounts.
In addition, the conglomerate suggested industry-wide proposals to tackle gaming addiction in China, such as a complete ban on mobile games for those under 12.
Games addiction among minors is viewed as a serious problem in China, with preventative measures first introduced in 2019. More recent measures spearheaded by Tencent have seen the utilisation of facial recognition software to restrict children gaming at night.
Honor of Kings has been targeted repeatedly with the game being one of the biggest in the world. Namely, the title took the top spot for global mobile games spending in June 2021 at $277 million.