Tencent gaming
A child plays an online mobile game on July 2, 2017 in Dezhou, Shandong Province of China. Getty Images

Tencent Holdings, one of China’s top game developers, said it will limit play time for some young users of the smartphone game Honour of Kings, Reuters reported. The decision was made in response to complaints that children were getting increasingly addicted to the popular game.

The fantasy role-playing game based on Chinese historical characters is the world's top-grossing game in terms of combined worldwide iOS and Google Play revenue in May this year. According to reports, the game has attracted 50 million active daily users, after adding 5 million users a month since it was launched last year — making it more popular than Nintendo’s global sensation Pokémon Go in the country.

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Most of its more than 200 million users are in China, with the game doubling its monthly active users in the country to 163 million in the past six months. However, Reuters reported that more than half of its users were below 24 years of age; and a quarter of users – 40.1 million– below 19 years.

The South China Morning Post said the company was facing pressure to mollify parents and teachers who were concerned about how addictive the game (which also coantains violence) had become for children. Starting Tuesday, anyone under 12 years would be restricted to one hour of play time per day, and those from 12 to 18 years would be allowed two hours of game time. The firm also planned to ban users less than 12 years of age from logging in after 9 pm, and impose further restrictions on how much money young users spend on the game, the report added.

Tencent, which has a portfolio of over 200 games, also said it would upgrade a parental-control platform, rolled out earlier this year, that makes it easier for parents to monitor their children's gaming account activities.

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The Reuters report also contained a company post on its official WeChat account explaining the decision.

"There are no rules to prevent indulgence in mobile games in China, but we decided to be the first to try to dispel parental worries by limiting play time and forcing children to log off,” the post said.

The game in question is thought to be essentially a mobile version of the world’s most played game, League of Legends, which was created by U.S. developer Riot Games. According to the Financial Times, an Honor of Kings’ user on an average played for almost six hours a week, spending $6 on the game each month. While the game can be downloaded for free, revenue is generated by the company by selling in-game extras such as upgraded characters and weapons. China and Japan have had a long and troubling history of internet and gaming addiction. Military-style boot camps designed to wean young people off their online addiction have also been opened in these countries. Tencent has currently soft-launched the game in Western countries under the new name Strike of Kings.