By Pei Li
HONGKONG – A Chinese public-interest group said on Tuesday it is suing Tencent over what it alleges is inappropriate content for minors in the top global game developer’s flagship video game, Honor of Kings.
Beijing Teenagers Law Aid And Research Center said it filed the lawsuit in a Beijing court on Tuesday, to mark the implementation of an amended protection of minors law.
The suit, whose content Reuters could not independently confirm, also coincides with an unprecedented antitrust crackdown by Beijing on some of China’s biggest tech companies that sources told Reuters includes Tencent.
The company, which declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, has progressively lowered the recommended age limit for the game from 18 in 2017 to 12 this year, the public-interest group said.
In a posting on its social media account, it said some of the game’s characters wore low-cut clothes and that its storyline tampered with historical figures and showed a lack of respect for traditional culture – all of which made the game inappropriate for young users.
“Game characters’ clothing is too revealing, while there is a lot of … low-taste content that is inappropriate for teenagers on its website and forums,” the group said in the posting.
An in-game raffle also made young players more likely to play the game for longer, it said.
Citing concerns about eye damage, Chinese authorities have sought to limit hours that teenagers can spend playing video games, and companies including Tencent have put in place anti-addiction systems that they say cap young users’ game time.
Tencent said last November that Honor of Kings, which is free to download but has paid-for in-play content, had a record 100 million daily active users worldwide.
Sources told Reuters in April that China is preparing to fine Tencent, probably in excess of $1 billion, for anticompetitive practices in some businesses and for not properly reporting past acquisitions for antitrust reviews.