China to lift ban on video game console sales

26 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

China officially ends ban on video game consoles.

China will lift a ban on making and selling video game consoles in the country, paving the way for foreign companies like Sony and Microsoft to expand in one of the world’s largest video game markets. 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. Previously, regulators limited foreign console makers, such as Sony and Nintendo, to operate only in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which stifled sales and potential growth. The move opens the door to a valuable market of video gamers who have turned to computer and mobile video games 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 remained committed to the console business in China. 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. 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. China had already made some modifications to its restrictions last year when the country allowed console manufacturers to operate in Shanghai’s free-trade zone. 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.

As a result, the government believed the best plan of action would be to ban all companies and individuals from producing and selling electronic gaming equipment and accessories. Plug’n’play consoles were a legal alternative to gaming consoles, and many players (like Nintendo) released these alternatives to keep China gaming.

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