Just days after children in China were banned from playing video games during the week, Chinese regulators summoned companies to demand that they reduce profits and tighten restrictions on how minors can play video games.
Authorities had called in firms, including industry leaders Tencent (TCEHY) and NetEase (NTES), to discuss restrictions around the streaming and playing of video games among minors, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
According to the report, during the meeting, companies were “urged to break away from the solitary focus of pursuing profit or attracting players and fans.” They were also told to change any game rules or design elements that could be construed as “inducing addiction”.
Representatives from four government agencies took part in the discussions, according to Xinhua: the Communist Party of China Central Committee’s Publicity Department, the National Press and Publication Administration, the Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“Companies that fail to comply with the requirements will face severe consequences,” the state news agency reported.
The news caused shares of Chinese gaming companies to drop. Following the publication of the state media report, NetEase’s stock fell 5.2 percent in New York on Wednesday, and Tencent’s stock fell 6% in Hong Kong on Thursday.
China recently banned online gamers under the age of 18 from playing on weekdays and limited their weekend play to three hours, signaling a significant tightening of restrictions on the country’s burgeoning gaming industry.
The move marked a significant tightening of the agency’s earlier limits, which had already limited children’s play to 90 minutes on weekdays and three hours on weekends.
The new restrictions were put in place last week to help prevent young people from becoming addicted to video games, according to authorities.
On Wednesday, they reminded businesses of the requirement, saying that game providers must “fully and faithfully impose the time limit” for minors.
According to Xinhua, “online game companies and platforms… should strengthen political positions and shoulder responsibilities.”
Authorities had given companies orders to crack down on content that promoted “wrong values” or a “unhealthy culture,” such as obscenity, violence, or “money-worship,” according to the report.
Underage players were also told that live-stream gaming platforms needed to improve their supervision, which included “banning large rewards” for them.