Shanda sells gamers a way around the anti-addiction system

Last week, reports circulated in the Chinese media about a method for cracking the new anti-addiction system for online gaming that GAPP and seven government other agencies put into trial operation on 15 April.

The government denied that the system was easily hackable, but acknowledged that there was room for improvement.

Now IT news site IT168 reports that Shanda, a gaming company participating in the trials, is actually making money by selling an in-game cheat that gets around the system:

"When the game time reaches three hours, the system will automatically put up a notification and implement an 'anti-addiction' setup that will cut gameplay rewards by 50% for players under the age of 18. And every half hour afterward, the system will automatically remind players to be mindful of their gaming time. After the fifth hour, if the gamer does not go offline, gameplay rewards drop to zero."

However, the reporter discovered in the course of investigation that after the fifth hour, the majority of players did not elect to go offline and rest; rather, they chose to use a "1.5 experience boost card" tool in the game. After using it, their characters could continue playing without regard for the anti-addiction system, and gameplay experience and rewards would return to normal.

It is notable that this tool is not visible on the official website. Because Shanda has set up the market for gaming equipment in nearly 1G worth of client space, people who are not players of that game cannot readily discover it. As a result, most people only know that the game is testing out an "Online gaming anti-addiction system" but are unaware of its actual effects.

Although Magical Land is a free game, purchasing a "1.5 experience boost card" tool requires spending RMB, at about 0.9 yuan for every point. Each experience card allows play to continue for six hours into unhealthy gameplay time; so long as the gamer does not care about such a small expense, he can continue to play whenever he wants, causing the online gaming anti-addiction system to fail, and at the same time, bringing Shanda a fair amount of money.

...The reporter asked a colleague who has covered the gaming industry for a long time for a comments on this matter; the colleague had always wondered why Shanda was so enthusiastic about the online gaming anti-addiction system as compared to the muted response of The9 and other competitors. Perhaps Shanda had this card up its sleeve. The reporter later contacted Shanda's PR department by email but did not receive a response.

The article quotes a college-aged gamer who estimates that 70% of players are making use of the tool.

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