The Chinese giant Tencent has announced the use of facial recognition technology to apply restrictions to video games for minors, taking advantage of the mobile camera to check if they are adults and can play late at night.
The measure, designed to control video game addiction, has actually been in place since 2019. It was then that the Chinese government introduced rules that imposed limits on the amount of money that minors could spend on video games, especially children. free for mobile (known as F2P, free-to-play).
These titles usually have microtransactions , which allow you to get advantages in exchange for small payments; however, most programmers encourage these payouts, designing the games to favor players who spend money. Controversy over these tactics reached a fever pitch a couple of years ago, and the Chinese government’s reaction was swift.
In addition to payment restrictions, the new rules limit the amount of time that those under 18 can play to 90 minutes a day , in addition to prohibiting gambling between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. However, soon after, young people had already found methods to overcome these limits, including the use of their parents’ identity cards as explained on the BBC .
Now, China’s largest video game company, Tencent, has announced the creation of a “midnight patrol”, an automated system that will identify minors who try to play at night, and will ban them from the platform.
In China, the vast majority of gamers play on mobile, and Tencent has taken advantage of that to use the front camera; When the game starts within the limited hours, the camera captures the player’s face . The algorithms will look up the face in a government database, used for the social security system.
Adults Expelled by Mistake
Tencent has confessed that the system can expel adults by mistake, but affirms that in that case, those affected only have to request a new scan of the face; however, users who refuse will be completely banned from the Tencent platform, regardless of their actual age.
Not all users will be identified in this way, at least not initially; Tencent explains that only accounts that use real names and have played for a certain period of time at night will be checked.
Tencent is the owner of countless development studios, and has published some of the most popular video games of recent times, at least in China; Its influence is reaching the West, with the purchase of the Americans Riot Games (creators of League of Legends) and the Finns Supercell (creators of Clash of Clans). It even owns 40% of Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite who are in the middle of a legal battle against Apple over App Store rules.