Chinese gaming giant Tencent has introduced facial recognition tech intended to stop minors gaming at night. The tech will screen users of some Tencent games to verify that they are who they say they are, and if the verification fails, the user will be prohibited from playing online.
How does the new Tencent facial recognition system work?
This news comes to us from China news platform Sixth Tone (via analyst Daniel Ahmad on Twitter). Chinese law currently states that minors cannot game after 10pm, nor can they spend large amounts of money on games. Tencent's new tech is intended to reinforce this law. According to a statement by Tencent (for which we're using Sixth Tone's translation), the company will conduct facial screening for any account registered with a real name that has played "for a certain period of time at night". If the user refuses or the verification fails, the account will be treated as a minor and "kicked offline".
At first, Tencent intends to launch this feature in mobile MOBA Honor of Kings and battle royale title Game for Peace, with a view to expanding the number of titles if the tech is successful. Given Tencent's size and prevalence in the Chinese gaming market, this could mean a remarkable number of mobile titles end up incorporating this new facial recognition system. Sixth Tone says that underage Chinese gamers have been expressing their disappointment via social app WeChat, calling this development "desperate news".
What does this mean for Western gamers?
Despite Tencent's involvement in many Western gaming companies, this isn't likely to have any kind of knock-on effect for Western gamers. After all, the law it's reinforcing here is one that's unique to China, and we can't imagine that a Chinese gaming company wanting to incorporate facial recognition tech into its games in the West would be met with approval by Western lawmakers. It's also worth noting that Honor of Kings and Game for Peace aren't technically available in the West. The former has a Western version in Arena of Valor, while the latter is a Chinese adaptation of PUBG Mobile.
As Daniel Ahmad points out on Twitter, Tencent's new tech is firmly intended to reinforce a Chinese law. In 2019, the Chinese gaming regulator introduced new policies restricting minors to gaming before 10pm and not spending more than $60 a month on in-game transactions. However, many minors were evidently circumventing these rules by gaming on accounts they didn't own, which is where the facial recognition tech comes in. We'll bring you more on this controversial development as soon as we get it.
What do you think about Tencent's new facial recognition system? Let us know in the comments below!