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China updating real name verification for video games in September

UPDATE: All titles will be expected to comply to prevent children from spending too much time gaming

Update: Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad reports the use of real name verification in games has been in force in China since 2007.

In a tweet, he described this as "an update to an existing system at the national level to ensure all video game companies are [compliant] with the new system."

The article below has been amended accordingly.

Original Story: China is preparing to roll out an update for its state-run authentication system that requires consumers to log into video games with their real names.

The South China Morning Post reports this is part of ongoing efforts to limit the amount of time children and young people spend playing.

The system was introduced back in 2007, according to Niko Partners, and new developments were shared by the Communist Party's Central Publicity Department at ChinaJoy on Friday.

The Department's Feng Shixin said the update will be implemented in September, and developers and publishers will be asked in batches to ensure their games adhere to the new rules.

There are no further details on how the updated system will work, but some Chinese games firms already operate their own identification verification process.

Tencent introduced this for its flagship title Honor of Kings back in 2018, checking player identities against police records to restrict the amount of time minors spent playing the game. The SCMP reports the game has since had a facial recognition system added.

Meanwhile, both Tencent and its rival NetEase enforce time restrictions on younger players, including the use of 11-hour curfews overnight, during which users are unable to log in.

The SCMP reports some children have already acquired fake IDs to subvert these restrictions, including on child who impersonated his grandfather to customer service.

Last month, it was revealed that Apple removed more than 15,000 unauthorised games from the Mainland China version of the App Store as it enforced a four-year-old law that all titles must have a valid publishing license.

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