Real-name rule won't impact game firms

By Chen Limin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-06-26 14:01
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BEIJING - The Chinese government's recent regulation that requires online game players to register with their real names will not have a great impact on Chinese online game vendors, as many of them have already adopted similar requirements in daily operations.

But experts said the regulation's ban on some features such as gambling may hurt their business in the short term.

The Ministry of Culture issued a regulation on Tuesday that requires online game players to register using their real name. The regulation, which will take effect on Aug 1, applies to all multiplayer role-playing games and social networking games.

"The real-name registration will not reduce our players because we've been doing this for some time," said Ren Yuxin, president of Tencent Games. He said the business impact of the latest regulation was "limited".

Online game providers in China have had to install anti-addiction software in their games since July 2007 to prevent minors from playing games for more than three hours in a row. Real-name registration is seen as a strengthening of the rule.

"It's unlikely to impact on our revenues," The9 Ltd, said in an e-mail reply. The company added that it was already operating based on similar rules.

A research note from Morgan Stanley said on Thursday that because most of China's Internet users live in more remote areas, it is difficult to prevent those who use fake identification from playing.

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Yu Yi, an analyst with domestic research firm Analysys International, said although real-name registration will not pose a great challenge to online game vendors, the regulation's ban on some game features such as gambling will have some impact in the short term.

"If the regulation can be well implemented, it may be a blow for the online game industry since most of the games have these features," Yu said.

China's online game industry earned 7.82 billion yuan ($1.15 billion) in the first quarter of this year, up 4.1 percent from the previous quarter, according to Analysys International.

Tencent took up a 25.3 percent market share, followed by Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd, which accounted for 21 percent and with 15.7 percent.