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Tencent rolls out facial recognition to restrict children gaming at night

The system will lock young users out of games late in the evening
Tencent rolls out facial recognition to restrict children gaming at night

Chinese tech giant Tencent has launched a new initiative to restrict "excessive" time spent on mobile games by under 18s.

As reported by Sixthtone, the new feature - dubbed "Midnight Patrol" - is a time-sensitive facial recognition system that will monitor players’ activity, specifically those who spend a significant amount of time playing games at night. The objective of the facial recognition system is to prevent minors from tricking the system and posing as adults.

Gaming addiction among minors is of increasing concern in China, with preventative measures first introduced in 2019 in an attempt to combat the issue. These included real-name registration, a games curfew for minors between 10pm and 8am and an upper limit on in-game spending.

Tencent was reported to be initially trialling facial recognition to restrict gameplay time in 2019 via its hugely popular MOBA, Honor of Kings.

"Anti-addiction supervision"

"We will conduct a face screening for accounts registered with real names and that have played for a certain period of time at night," said Tencent in a statement.

"Anyone who refuses or fails the face verification will be treated as a minor, and as outlined in the anti-addiction supervision of Tencent’s game health system, and kicked offline."

The facial recognition screening will initially launch for over 60 titles - including Honor of Kings - with plans for an increased rollout in the future. Upon failure of the facial recognition, the user will be unable to access the game until the following day after 8am..

In May 2021, Honor of Kings achieved the highest-grossing amount of revenue for a mobile game worldwide for the third consecutive month, earning $264.5 million that month.