China’s longtime ban on foreign video game consoles is officially over

26 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

China Lifts Console Restrictions for the Entire Country.

The country is set to lift the last lingering remnants of a ban on video game console sales that’s been in place since 2000. New rules will apply to foreign and domestic console makers, enabling them to manufacture and sell anywhere in the country, according to a statement from the Ministry of Culture released earlier this week.While there were a great deal of rumblings that China would allow video game consoles manufactured abroad to be sold within its borders, the day for policy change has finally come.

While PC and mobile gaming have long been major attractions in China, the big three console makers — Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony — were all, as foreign interests, stuck on the outside. Console producers at the moment are free to market and promote their merchandise on the largest shopper market in the world, and second in online game income. However, China was not completely devoid of the console phenomenon, as some developers such as Nintendo circumvented the ban by offering so called plug and play consoles – game consoles resembling controllers which could be connected to a TV and would have one pre-installed game, having to buy multiple pieces for different games.

While that represented a major turnaround for the long-closed Chinese market, it also put a definitive ceiling on sales potential for console makers outside the country. Game consoles were first banned in 2000 due to fears that the devices — and the 3D worlds produced by them — had a negative effect on the mental and physical development of children. The move opens the door to a valuable market of videogamers who have turned to computer and mobile videogames because of limited access to consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo’s Wii. “This is great news for us,” a Sony Computer Entertainment spokeswoman said, adding that the company remains committed to the console business in China. Last year, China eased those restrictions by letting game console-makers operate in an experimental 11-square-mile area in Shanghai, known as the free trade zone.

According to online game market researcher Lisa Hanson, cited by Kotaku, the determination was taken on account of parental outcry towards the rising console market at the time, whereas additionally making an attempt to guard the Chinese youth. Gaming companies have long had their eyes on the Chinese market but have faced restrictions since 2000, when Chinese regulators enacted a console ban to prevent what they said were potential adverse effects on China’s youth. But even those relaxed restrictions proved to be a major hurdle to console-makers, which had to enter into contracts to build new manufacturing facilities in the area.

China’s gaming market, which includes sales of mobile video games and consoles, is estimated to be worth $22.2 billion this year, up 23% from a year earlier, according to gaming research firm Newzoo BV.

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