China Issues Draft of First Rules Governing In-Game Spending by Minors
Liu Xiaojie
DATE:  May 29 2024
/ SOURCE:  Yicai
China Issues Draft of First Rules Governing In-Game Spending by Minors China Issues Draft of First Rules Governing In-Game Spending by Minors

(Yicai) May 29 -- The Internet Society of China has released draft regulations to control spending by minors when they play online video games. The proposed rules are the first of their kind in the industry.

China took the first steps to combat game addiction among the underage a few years ago. In 2021, regulators limited their online playtime to three hours a week. Game developers were also required to enforce real-name registration to prevent minors from bypassing restrictions. But irrational in-game spending remains a big issue. 

Under the regulations published yesterday for public consultation, players aged eight to 16 will only be allowed to top up their in-game accounts by CNY200 (USD28) at the most per month, with the cap on each recharge set at CNY50 (USD7). Sixteen to 18-year-olds can top up by at most CNY400 a month, with single additions of up to CNY100.

A total of over 26,050 complaints related to the keywords ‘minor in-game top-up' and 'guiding minors to top-up' have been filed on Sina's consumption complaints platform Heimao.

The draft also proposes new rules on refunds involving minors. If the guardian of a player aged under 18 years files a complaint or applies for a refund, the game developer will bear full responsibility if it had failed to access the national electronic identity authentication system, resulting in minors being able to use online game services and top up their accounts without limits.

But should the game company have configured the anti-addiction measures in accordance with the law, and the guardian helps the minor bypass restrictions or fails to fulfill their responsibilities, hen the game developer would bear only 30 percent to 70 percent of the responsibility.

Guardians still have some responsibility in preventing gaming addiction, said analyst Zhang Leshu. The new rules play a very big role in clarifying the boundary between business and family on the issue, he added.

The Internet Society of China is a non-governmental organization with more than 1,300 members, which include individuals, businesses, think tanks, and schools.

Editors: Shi Yi, Futura Costaglione

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Keywords:   excessive consumption,games