Beijing Children’s Law Aid and Research Center, the earliest legal child protection organization in China, announced on June 1 that it is suing Tencent [0700:HK] on its flagship mobile game, Honor of Kings, for infringing minor’s rights and interests, as reported by Caixin on June 1. The organization argued that there were inappropriate contents for juvenile and a hiding inducement mechanism that would lead to gaming addiction. The next day, the institution put forward the claim for Tencent to rectify the content of the game, set up special funds for the protection of juveniles addicted to the game and for the construction of sports facilities. At present, Tencent has not responded to this matter.
Honor of Kings is a best-selling mobile game developed by Tencent’s game studio. According to its previously disclosed information, the game’s daily active users (DAUs) exceeded 100m in the first ten months of 2020. Many parents criticized the game for leading to internet addiction in children. For example, in 2017, an 11-year-old boy addicted to the game, spent nearly RMB10,000 to buy virtual property in a short time. Later, the teenager’s parents took Tencent to court. In July 2017, People’s Daily published three articles, criticizing the Honor of Kings for damaging the health of children, and called Tencent to take measures to prevent juveniles from developing gaming addiction. Following that, Tencent quickly released rules restricting children’s daily game time to only two hours. Later, Tencent also banned kids from playing the Honor of Kings between 9 PM and 8 AM the next day.
At the end of 2020, the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee required all game enterprises to use a real-name verification system based on personal ID numbers to prevent juveniles from overly indulging in online games before May 31, 2021. Tencent also said it started facial recognition verifications in more than 100 mobile game products, including Honor of Kings, as supplementary to the real-name verification system. In addition, on the same day that the organization fielded a lawsuit with the court, China’s newly revised law on the protection of minors came into effect. This law especially sets up a chapter for protecting juveniles on the internet, emphasizing the prevention of juveniles’ personal information leakage and online gaming addiction. Besides, the law clearly stipulates that internet companies shall not offer addiction-inducing products or services to teenagers.