Shares of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and rivals plummeted Tuesday after a state-owned Chinese newspaper criticized online gaming as “opium for the mind,” fueling investor concerns that the companies’ popular games could be swept up into a broader regulatory crackdown.
Hours later, however, the story was no longer accessible on the paper’s website, and the stocks recovered some lost ground. Meanwhile, Tencent said it would introduce stricter curbs on younger users.
Tencent’s shares, which had dropped more than 10% earlier in the session, pared some losses to trade about 6.3% lower by midafternoon in Hong Kong. Peers NetEase Inc. and Bilibili Inc. also recouped some lost ground, to trade about 9.5% and 5.2% lower, respectively, while the city’s Hang Seng Tech Index retreated 1.3%.
The state-owned Economic Information Daily published a feature on Tuesday, saying excessive gaming could have ill effects on children and highlighting experts’ calls for tighter regulation.
“Society has come to recognize the harm caused by online gaming and it is often referred to as ‘opium for the mind’ or ‘electronic drugs,’” the newspaper said. It said gaming addiction was on the rise, affecting children’s studies and causing alienation.