Dungeon Fighter Online mobile rollout delayed in China
Nexon's Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO) mobile version was delayed in China one day before it was set to be rolled out in the country.
The company said this is due to the requirement from the Chinese government that all games sold there be equipped with over-engagement prevention systems for minors, which stop kids from playing too much.
Shenzhen, China-based Tencent is the distributor of the mobile game in China.
“China’s game companies are required to abide by regulations on time and money adolescents spend on games,” said a Nexon spokesperson. “We have determined that DFO needs upgrades in its system, so the release in China has unfortunately been delayed.”
In October 2019, China imposed gaming curfews and spending limits to curb video game addiction. According to state-run Xinhua News Agency, the guidelines strictly regulate online gaming by younger people, stipulating that minors cannot play games for more than 90 minutes per day. Up to three hours are allowed on the weekends and holidays. Minors are prohibited from going online between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m.
The rules also put a limit game spending. Kids under age 8 cannot buy any accessories or items within the games. For those between 8 and 16 years old, the monthly maximum spending cap is 200 yuan ($29), and for 16- to 18-year-olds, the cap is 400 yuan per month. The Chinese government also reinforced the real name verification system to prevent adolescents from using cell phones of their parents without permission.
“Since 2017, China has been strengthening protection measures for gamers and giving out fewer game permits,” said Choi Seung-woo, policy director at Korea Association of Game Industry. “The guidelines for minors also emerged in that context.”
China’s measures are stronger than those in Korea. Korea has been enforcing the shutdown law since 2011, blocking access to game websites past midnight until 6 a.m. for players under 16. Korea’s shutdown law does not apply to mobile games, but China’s online curfew does.
“China is one of the few countries that places strict time constraints on different age groups for gaming at a governmental level,” said Lee Jang-ju, the president of Research Institute for Digital Culture and Happiness. “In countries like the United States, adolescents are allowed to play games under parental guidance as long as the games are ethical. But gaming addiction is not necessarily worse in those countries even without the governmental rules, so China’s policy is controversial."
Nexon said it will announce the new schedule for mobile DFO’s release in China once the upgrade is finished. Neople, a subsidiary of Nexon, released the original PC-based DFO in 2005. Since its introduction in China in 2008, the game has been gaining a lot of traction, setting a peak record of 5 million concurrent users in 2014.
As of January, DFO had 700 million members worldwide. Neople’s sales in 2019 totaled 1.14 trillion won ($962 million), and its operating profit was 1.37 trillion won. Most of the income came from domestic sales from the PC edition of DFO and royalty payments from China. The mobile game’s preregistration that started last December in China has attracted 60 million people so far.
BY PARK MIN-JE [firstname.lastname@example.org]