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Tencent to subject players to police ID checks

The Honour of Kings mobile game, developed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., is arranged for a photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

By BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG • Tencent Holdings Ltd will begin using a police database to verify the ages and identities (ID) of players on its biggest mobile title, ramping up a campaign against game addiction in response to growing criticism about the industry’s ills.

In a first for China’s gaming industry, the social media titan will match players of the smash-hit “Honour of Kings” against a nationwide police database from next week, Tencent said on its official social media account. That’ll help surface underaged users who’re subject to limits on play-time, it added.

China’s 700 million-plus Internet and social media users are growing ever more accustomed to constant policing of their activities, and having their ID exposed.

But Tencent’s initiative will spill over into entertainment, widening the net of scrutiny to include millions of children and casual gamers. Tencent is under fire from regulators and state run media for fomenting game addiction.

The mobile slugfest has evolved into a local phenomenon, but also become a lightning rod for criticism about the ills of prolonged gaming.

Last week, a coterie of government agencies banded together to issue a raft of edicts intended to combat the growing incidence of myopia among children, taking aim at their usage of electronic devices and the sheer proliferation of online games.

Tencent’s shares dived 3% yesterday and are now hovering at about their lowest levels in a year.