Tom Phillips

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China has announced new rules to limit the encouragement of spending in online video games, spooking investors in two of the world’s biggest publishers.

News of the limits wiped a combined ~$80bn from the value of Tencent and NetEase, China’s two main games publishers that now support or part-own many of the world’s biggest games companies.

Chinese online video games will now no longer be able to offer an extra incentive to spend in a game for the first time, or for spending repeatedly, Reuters reported.

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Games can also no longer off daily rewards for logging in, stopping games from encouraging players back day after day to maintain a streak.

There are also limits to how currency much you can add to in-game digital wallets, and from banning probability-based odds to minors.

While restrictions on gaming in China are nothing new, these latest changes appear to have alarmed shareholders concerned by the country’s ongoing influence – and willingness – to make sweeping changes to how games can operate in the country.

The changes – which are still pending, and may yet change subject to review in the new year – come following a period of growth for gaming in China.

Game approvals have now resumed – and one new change likely to be seen as positive by developers is a requirement for these to be processed within 60 days.

As a reminder, Tencent owns Funcom, Riot Games and Sumo Digital, most of Techland, Tequila Works, Yager, Fatshark and Supercell, and then portions of Epic Games, Don’t Nod, Bloober, Marvelous, FromSoftware, Krafton, Frontier, Paradox and Remedy.

NetEase, meanwhile, owns Grasshopper Manufacture and Quantic Dream, a stake in Bungie, and has invested in more than a dozen newer studios over the past year – many founded by industry veterans.

Previous gaming restrictions put in place in 2021 limit gaming for under 18s to just an hour per day and only on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays. A report last year stated the measures had cut video game playing among youngsters, and that around 54 percent had complied with regulations.

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China seeks to curtail spending in online games