Forward-looking: Tencent may be trying to do a good thing by limiting the time spent on mobile devices by youth, but it also leads to the possibility of highly invasive tracking of minors.
China is a whole different world when it comes to video games and electronics markets. Tencent heavily controls much of the game distribution in China and has many government ties. Sharing many similarities to League of Legends, Honour of Kings is one of the most popular games in China with over 200 million registered users.
Within Honour of Kings, Tencent is testing out a new facial recognition feature to determine the ages of players. In an effort to combat addiction to the game and to give parents the ability to further limit game time for youth, Tencent is conducting a trial on several thousand users in Beijing and Shenzhen.
Last year, Tencent added restrictions to allow children 12 and under only one hour of gameplay daily. Users between ages 13 and 18 have been restricted to a two hour daily maximum.
Following the addition of real-name registration to cut down on cheating, facial recognition will now be able to prevent bypassing of play time restrictions. For now, users will randomly be selected to be part of the facial recognition testing. Tencent has not disclosed how it will be cross-referencing images or what sort of software is being used.
Considering that China's ministry of education had plans of its own to develop an age-restriction system, it would not be out of the question for Tencent to be working in tandem with government officials. Although Tencent has not announced any such partnership at this time, it would hardly be a surprise given its previous history of friendly relations with Chinese officials.