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NetEase: Anti-addiction measures “should not only be focused on online games”

But Chinese publisher supports ongoing efforts to restrict screen time for young children

NetEase CEO William Ding believes all games firms need to take responsibility for ensuring minors do not spend too long playing their titles - but stresses that addiction concerns should not just be directed at games.

Ding's comments -- transcribed by Seeking Alpha -- came from a Q&A session with investors following NetEase's latest financial results, which showed solid growth thanks to a mix of mobile titles and partnerships with Western developers.

The CEO was asked for his thoughts on regulations to restrict the amount of gameplay time allowed for minors, with an investor noting that Tencent has recently spoken to Chinese mayors about further ways to enforce this.

Last year, Tencent implemented a time-limit to prevent kids from becoming addicted to its games, and it was suggested NetEase may want to follow suit.

"Yes, we agree that game operators share the responsibility to create a healthy online game environment for minors," Ding responded. "In fact more than a decade ago, when we were operating PC games, we already had measures in place to provide protection to minors to prevent addiction."

The example he gave was a log-in system that required the use of real names and ages before players are able to access the game. NetEase plans to "continue to improve and enhance" this mechanism in its titles.

However, Ding stressed that this is not an obligation specific to games companies.

"Anti-addiction for minors probably this should not be only narrowly focused on online games," he said. "In fact in this cyber world and this mobile internet age, there are multiple parties who can contribution their asset and obligation in creating a more conducive and healthy Internet, mobile Internet environment for the minors."

Elsewhere in the conversation, Ding briefly addressed the government's tightened control over the Chinese games industry, including an ongoing freeze on new game approvals. Again, concerns for children's health have been cited as part of the reason for this, with the Ministry for Education recommending fewer game approvals to combat myopia.

The CEO said NetEase "fully understands and supports" the government's intention to regulate and make the games market "a healthy and sustainable segment."

"China is the fastest growing and is also now the largest game market in the world," he said. "And throughout the fast development, there are also certain issues emerging for instance undesired impact online inappropriate content, etcetera.

"But in the longer term, the regulators' intention is really to promote online game segment as a format of entertainment, educational asset, as well as to promote creativity in cultural innovation. So in the longer term, the government is fully in supportive of developing online games industry being healthy and sustainable manner."

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