Today, Tencent Games announced it will begin integrating facial recognition technology for some user logins and payments across all its mobile games in China, in order to more effectively enforce the restrictions on minors that the Chinese government has required of all game publishers.
Over the last year, the Chinese government made clear that it required game publishers to seriously implement real-name identification to restrict how minors can use games, including gaming curfews, playtime limits, and limits on in-game purchases. The facial recognition technology by Tencent is designed to prevent minors from using their parents’ or friends’ accounts to get around these restrictions.
Tencent claims it uses AI, machine learning, and other technology to flag adult accounts suspected of being used by juveniles. For such accounts, facial recognition will be required at two key points: logins and payments.
For suspect accounts, a face scan at login will be required, which will be compared with public security facial data. Users identified as minors or unverified will be limited to only 1.5 hours a day of playtime on weekdays, 3 hours a day on legal holidays and weekends, and can only play from 8am to 10pm.
For payments, when the monthly recharge of a suspected account exceeds 400 yuan, or the user has abnormal recharge behavior, the facial verification system will kick in before the player is allowed to continue. Users who refuse or fail verification cannot continue to recharge.
Tencent said they already piloted the feature in their popular “Honor of Kings” and “Peace Elite” mobile games in May, and will begin rolling it out across all the mobile games in their catalog effective immediately.
China’s government restrictions on minors stem from an effort to curb juvenile delinquency, lack of concentration on studies, and an increase in myopia among young children in China. For more information, see our previous article and this translated government document on the topic.