Tencent reacts to Chinese state media calling online games ‘spiritual opium’ by adding new restrictions

Tencent, China’s largest digital entertainment company, has been under a barrage of criticism from state media in recent weeks for its emphasis on games, which some have accused of having a negative impact on the country’s social and moral development. Last week, the official Xinhua news agency accused Tencent of “strangling moral standards in society and encouraging the consumption of ‘spiritual opium’”. After Xinhua’s reports, Tencent announced a series of new restrictions on its popular WeChat messaging app in order to appease the government and make it more suitable for social and political use.

Over the last few years, the Chinese government has taken a stronger stance against online games, trying to curb their influence on society and children. Earlier this year, the government even called the popularity of online games an “opium for the masses.” After that report, Tencent—China’s top online game development company—released a new set of rules for its games in an effort to preemptively ease the pressure.


Tencent-operated games will impose additional limitations on young online game players in China. That’s in reaction to a report in China’s Economic Information Daily (EID), a sister publication of the country’s state-run Xinhua news agency, describing the company’s mobile MOBA Honor of Kings as “spiritual opium.”

“’Spiritual opium’ has evolved into a multibillion-dollar business. […] No enterprise, no sport, can be permitted to grow in such a manner that it would kill a generation,” the essay said in part.

Tencent’s stock plummeted as a result of the story, and the firm lost $60 billion in market worth. Hours after the EID story was published, the business stated that, beginning with Honor of Kings, it will be implementing additional restrictions for children under the age of 12, including a ban on spending money in the game and time limits of 1.5 hours on non-holidays and 3 hours on holidays.

For background, opium and its addictive qualities are a delicate topic in China, given the drug’s history in the nation, which has resulted in two wars. In addition, EID republished the piece with a more conciliatory tone, urging authorities, game companies, and families to collaborate to fight young children’s addiction to internet gaming.


This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • the ‘spiritual’ spider web
  • online’ games
  • free online girls’ games
  • kids’ online card games
  • kids’ online games sites
Greg Baskerville
Greg Baskerville
Gaming Blogger & Musician. Playing games since the Amiga days in the 1980's, and a handy guitarist.

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