China has recently announced new, very tough, restrictions for young gamers. A new Chinese Law could kill eSports in China. From now on, minors will only be able to play video games 3 hours a week, from 8 to 9 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as well as during holidays. A very severe restriction with which the Chinese government wants to combat the addiction of children to video games.
The government did it because it was worried about this addiction and worried that the kids “throw” money away with these video games. China wants to fight Lootboxes and online video game shopping. But the founder of Netease, one of the largest video game companies in China stated that “this restriction will not penalize the company as the number of minors who spend money on video games is very low”.
This, therefore, appears to be a move that may not solve the problem. But it risks being a decision that could wipe out the next generation of professional esports players. In fact, it is proven that all professional players started playing as minors and many became professionals even before they turned 18.
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“If you start playing a sport when you are 10-12 years old there is a greater chance that you will continue to play it for life – explains Kato an analyst at Lightstream Research – but if you can play video games only 3 hours a week, many probably they will choose not to play it and therefore many will not play videogames even when they are over 18 ”.
There is thus a strong risk that this newly introduced law could negatively influence China. The number 1 nation of eSports could soon find itself without spare parts because the youngest ones may not be dedicated to eSports like previous generations. In almost all games, such as League of Legends or Dota2, the strongest teams are the Chinese teams. In 2013, an American stadium showed that the passion for video games was born in adolescence and not after.
We are talking about a very rich and rapidly expanding market, and China is one of the strongest markets when it comes to eSports. Basically the Chinese government is shooting itself in the foot as they say in Italy. So for Chinese eSports teams this could be a huge blow. But this could revolutionize the world of eSports completely. Let’s not forget that China is still the main market. Not only are there the strongest teams but it is the country with the most eSports fans who keep these events alive with their passion and investments.
It is no coincidence that many events still take place in China. It is true that Worlds 2021 was moved to Europe due to Covid-19 problems but originally it had to take place, once again in Asia. The impact will not be felt now, but in a few years, when the new generations of Chinese players will find themselves having far fewer hours of play than their peers in other countries. Let us remember that many become professionals before they come of age and therefore the backlash could already be felt in China. The market could move west. But eSports could lose a lot as the Chinese have often proven themselves the best.
Many talents could break this law. One of the solutions would be to use a VPN to access foreign gaming sites where restrictions are not in effect. Of course, not everyone would be able to do it but experts should be able to do it without major problems. As indeed many Chinese have done recently to play Valorant, a game that has not yet landed “officially” in China, despite the fact that there are many Chinese players. This is because many have used overseas gaming sites to try out Riot Games’ new game.
In short, once the law is made, the solution to the problem can be found. It remains to be seen whether the Chinese government will decide on very strict surveillance, blocking access to foreign sites or will it be satisfied with having limited some young people. Certainly, this law will have a major impact on the world of eSports, both for the players and for the fans. How much impact it will have is currently hard to say.