China has a serious gaming addiction problem especially when it comes to underage kids and teenagers. So much so that the Chinese government had even placed a curfew and made it mandatory for players to sign in to online games with an ID number and their real names. That’s pretty harsh but you could argue that it’s for the best. No one wants their kids playing a game 24/7. The ID number requirement seemed easily bypassable and it was.
You could get an adult’s phone and register using their ID and play. However, now it seems that Tencent has a solution even for that. You may know Tencent because of PUBG Mobile, the popular mobile battle royale. Tencent is now rolling out a facial recognition scan for some popular titles to ensure that no underage kids play games late at night. They call this new technology, the Midnight Patrol. This may have raised privacy concerns if it was in a country other than China.
China has been known for its love of facial recognition technology and with the country being so advanced in Artificial Intelligence, it’s not a surprise that Tencent, a Chinese company, is doing the same. The goal for Midnight Patrol is to ensure no one tries to skirt the rules set by the government. So if you’re underage, you can’t play games too late into the night.
If you start up a game past the government’s curfew timings, you’ll have to submit a facial scan to do so. The game will also interrupt the player after a period of time to recan their face to ensure that it is actually an adult who is playing the game, not a kid who took their mobile phone after having an adult do the scan for them. China is famous for monitoring its population and while many Chinese gamers are used to the constant tracking it seems this might be the last straw for them.
Many expressed their displeasure touting privacy concerns. Others don’t really trust the company’s software and even question its credibility. Many people look younger or older than their age so what if the scan does a false positive? It is unclear how exactly Tencent’s system will work. Does it use some algorithm to determine age? Does it have to do with certain facial features? Or is the system just comparing faces with an existing database?
We don’t know if this system will be implemented for BUBG Mobile as well. However, considering its presence internationally we don’t think that’s possible. While the Chinese might be used to the constant tracking, other countries are not.