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Naspers, Prosus shares fall after further tightening of gaming regulations in China

File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA)

File picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 31, 2021

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The shares of Naspers and Europe-based subsidiary Prosus fell more than 2 percent on Monday after China said it would forbid minors from gaming more than three hours most weeks, imposing its strictest controls yet on youth entertainment and a blow to the world’s largest mobile gaming arena.

The new rules follow broad and tightening measures by Beijing on China’s tech giants, such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, which have unnerved investors in recent months and forced Chinese shares lower.

Prosus is the biggest shareholder of Chinese gaming and internet group Tencent, with a 28.9 percent shareholding.

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Naspers shares were down 2.46 percent on the day to R2 343.16 on the JSE by early yesterday afternoon, and were down 17.4 percent over three months. Prosus shares were 2.4 percent lower at the same time to R1 217.91, and were down 30.1 percent over three months.

Chinese regulators have cut the amount of time players under the age of 18 can spend on online games to an hour of game-play on Fridays, weekends and holidays, in response to a growing concern in that country over gaming addiction, the Guardian reported yesterday citing China state media, the Xinhua news agency.

The rules, published by the National Press and Publication Administration, said users under the age of 18 would be able to play games only from 8pm to 9pm local time on those days.

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Online gaming companies would be barred from providing gaming services to minors in any form outside those hours, and would have to ensure they had put real name verification systems in place, said the regulator, which oversees the country’s video games market.

Previously, China limited the total time minors could access online games to three hours on holiday or 1.5 hours on other days.

The National Press and Publication Administration said it would also increase the frequency and intensity of inspections for online gaming companies to ensure they were putting in place time limits and anti-addiction systems.

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