China bans minors from microtransactions

Ministry of Culture issues new regulations prohibiting "unwholesome" content, requiring online players to register with their real names.

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The Chinese government takes a hands-on approach to its game industry, mandating things like what kind of content can appear in games or how long people can play them. A new set of regulations continues that trend, notably banning minors from participating in virtual currency systems common in microtransaction-driven games.

Chinese minors will still be able to play games like Free Realms, but they won't be able to buy new items or features.
Chinese minors will still be able to play games like Free Realms, but they won't be able to buy new items or features.

As reported by the Xinhua News Agency, the new regulations will prohibit "unwholesome" content, require companies to develop methods of limiting playtime of minors to prevent addiction, ban those under 18 from using virtual currency, and require that online players register with their real names. While it's unclear exactly how broad the government's definition of "unwholesome" will be, the law specifically prohibits online games from advocating violence, pornography, gambling, cults, or superstitions. The regulations were announced by the Ministry of Culture this week and will take effect August 1.

The new controls on gaming come just two months after the government cracked down on Chinese Internet cafe operators. Minors are barred from those establishments, and the government in April said cafes will have to shut down for 30 days if they're caught allowing minors to use their services. Two such violations in one year is grounds to have the business license withdrawn entirely.

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