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WATCH: Tencent imposes child lock on mobile game to curb addiction

TENCENT has announced a child lock policy for child and teenage players of their wildly popular game Honour of Kings in order to combat addiction to the game after a Chinese daily slammed it.

The child lock will apply a blanket daily time limit for players below the age of 12, who will be totally locked out after 9pm. Aged between 12 and 18? You get an extra hour of play time.

Honour of Kings is a collaborative role-playing game which has amassed a large and loyal fan base of over 200 million players. Some reports suggest half or more of the game’s players are under 24 years old. The game came under fire when the People’s Daily, which is largely seen at the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, published several screeds on July 4 against the Tencent product calling it “poison” and “a drug” for the game’s addictive quality.

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The negative press leads to Tencent seeing US$17.5 billion of its stock wiped out while its shareholders began making noises about the profitability of the company in the long-term.

In the meantime, the child lock policy has fuelled the rise of a black market where young players can buy “adult” accounts for prices ranging from as low as a couple dozen yuan to ones that cost thousands. A Beijing News journalist uncovered the market and was able to buy an adult account for US$3, Quartz reported. Prices vary depending on the characters’ experience and inventory.