In a first-of-its-kind move, a popular boosting app has been banned in China. The app, which was designed to help gamers increase their rankings, has been convicted of unfair competition and undermining Tencent’s playtime restriction mechanism. The ban comes as part of China's ongoing crackdown on video game addiction among minors.
The app in question, called Boosting Party, was popular among gamers who wanted to boost their rank quickly and easily, especially in Tencent’s mobile games Honor of Kings and Game for Peace.
Due to the fact that the boosting service was facilitated through the users of the Boosting Party app, there were instances where underage individuals accessed accounts belonging to adults in order to play games. This practice is in clear violation of Tencent's playtime restriction mechanisms and China's regulations on minors’ gaming.
This is the first time a boosting app has been banned in China, and it represents a significant victory for Tencent, which has long sought to crack down on such apps. Boosting apps are a common problem in the gaming community, as they can ruin the balance of skill-based matchmaking systems and lead to frustration among most users.
In fact, Tencent has been working on banning boosting apps for some time, but it has been difficult to do so without specific laws in place or evidence of wrongdoing. The company has been forced to rely on the existing regulation of game time for minors to sue the boosting service, as they did violate certain policies.
In the end, the court sentenced Boosting Party to compensate Tencent for economic losses and reasonable legal expenses totaling 142,917 USD. As the case involved the protection of minors, the court also ordered Boosting Party to immediately stop the operation of its app to prevent minors from using adult game accounts through the app.
Perhaps in the future, game-boosting services will introduce mechanisms similar to Tencent's mobile games to prevent minors from playing games for excessive periods of time. However, Tencent's fight against boosting services is unlikely to end easily or quickly.