China has reportedly suspended online game approvals to combat what it views as a rise in video game addiction.
According to a report from the South China Morning Post (SCMP), which spoke to those with knowledge of the matter, the temporary suspension was announced during a regulatory meeting on Wednesday led by the publicity department of the Chinese Community Party and watchdog the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA).
Representatives from major game companies Tencent and NetEase reportedly attended the meeting to discuss how they would implement new regulations, including one restriction that prevents those under the age of 18 from spending more than 3 hours per week playing games.
One person briefed on the situation told the SCMP that the latest suspension, which comes around three years after China halted all video game approvals for nine months, means "everything is on hold."
There was apparently no clear indication as to how long the suspension will last, although another source claimed it will be upheld "for a while" and is designed to "cut the number of new games" launching in the region.
Chinese regulators have been clamping down hard on video games in recent years, with the NPPA explaining it wants to protect "the physical and mental health of minors" during an "era of national rejuvenation."
As well as severely restricting playtime, regulators have also implemented age-restriction systems and ushered in late-night curfews -- the latter of which resulted in companies like Tencent rolling out facial recognition technology to prevent players from breaking those rules.
The Chinese State Media-sponsored publication Economic Information Daily also recently published an article decrying video games as "spiritual opium," and calling for even more regulations to be put in place.