The Xbox One/PS4 Console War Officially Enters A Giant New Territory

26 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

China has finally legalized game console sales—for real this time.

China has officially lifted the 15-year nationwide ban on video game consoles, opening the doors for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to start selling the PS4, Xbox One and Wii U to the most populous nation on Earth. 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 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. It’s exciting new territory for all three major manufacturers: the PS4 as it looks to establish itself as one of the best-selling consoles of all time, the Xbox One as it looks to make up ground against the ascendant PS4, and the Wii U as it attempts to recoup some of the losses it’s faced throughout its troubled lifespan. 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. While the ban on consoles has been officially lifted for several months, console makers like Microsoft and Sony Corp were forced to funnel their systems through Shanghai, which is home to China’s experimental free-trade zone. 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.

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. Restrictions that are normally in place throughout the rest of China are relaxed in the free-trade zone, allowing the government to test out new regulations and economic models before expanding them to other parts of the country. 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. Console sales had first been allowed within the confines of Shanghai’s free-trade zone before the ban was finally lifted, and until now the city has remained the sole port of entry for foreign game systems. They’re going to need to think about what sort of games the Chinese are playing now, and how consoles can both fit into that picture and augment it in a way that people can’t get on PC or mobile.

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