The Chinese government has laid out recommendations that will help minimise the amount of time children spend in front of screens, and therefore reducing the risk of myopia.
The Ministry of Education believes the increase in the use of video games and the internet may be causing higher rates of near-sightedness among minors, Niko Partners reports.
It has issued recommendations to eight regulatory bodies, positing that these will help reduce the rate of myopia by five per cent by 2023.
Three of the recommendations targeted video games and were issued to the State Administration of Radio and Television, the body in charge of approving games for release in China. According to Niko, these suggestions were:
- To continue strengthening current regulations that limit the amount of time that minors can play games online
- To investigate the implementation of an age ratings system for games
- To limit the number of new online games that are approved for distribution
The third point is likely the one to have the biggest impact on developers, as more and more studios target the lucrative Chinese market. However, this is something of a moot point at this current stage, since the SART has not approved any games for release since its restructuring began in April 2018.
Niko expects a more detailed policy on limiting the number of new online games to be released at the end of September (or possibly later, depending on when the restructure is completed), after which it believes "game licensing will resume, to some extent."
However, the analyst firm warns that: "At this point, it is unclear if the policy will ultimate be restrictive or not."
Niko Partners adds that it expects poker and mah-jong titles, as well as mobile games, to be most impacted by any limit on new online games, and that "the new regulations will probably not impact PC, console or even core esports and RPG mobile games."
"We think that if the third recommendation is implemented, smaller game companies with only a few potential hit titles would suffer more than larger ones," the report continues.
"The top game companies would continue to strengthen their positions, as they have more AAA games, and more resources to support the game approval process. The export game market is more competitive, so more middle and small companies could go under if their game is not approved for domestic distribution."
Niko also notes that introduction of an age ratings system has been recommended before. In fact, regulators have created a colour-based ratings system in the past but it was not enforced, and China does not currently have a dedicated ratings body like the ESRB or PEGI.
There have also been measures to limit children's screen time in the past, including in the classroom, and Tencent notably introduced restrictions to popular MOBA Honor of Kings last year.