Lifting China's Console Ban: The Bigger Picture

Lifting China's Console Ban: The Bigger Picture

Reversing the console ban is only a small chip in the high-stakes economic game the People's Republic is playing with the Shanghai FTZ-and the console ban has gone on so long that it's possible the Chinese market has turned away from consoles altogether.

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Interesting article and useful for me, as a foreigner who has lived in China for the last seven years, to clarify the current and future rules, which I'd always been a bit confused about.

The other thing to consider, at least for young people, is that most Chinese parents won't let their children (and this included anyone upto the age of about 21) buy a console, as video games are evil incarnate. They will get a laptop, especially when they leave for university and failing that they'll go to a internet bar to play their favourite games. Since computers are relatively new there are not a lot of older gamers in China either.

Secondly, since the consoles were illegal, any console you can buy will be already chipped for playing pirate software (and consequently not available for playing on-line). Pirated games are sold for the equivalent of 50 pence (less than a dollar) and having got used to this, the average Chinese consumer is not going to start paying the cost of legitimate software, which is what Microsoft/Sony will need to start getting their investment back on the console.

(As a completely legit gamer this causes huge problems for me, as I can't buy most accessories in China and I can only buy a very limited selection of non-pirate games. I tried to get an upgrade to my 60gb Xbox hard-drive but it wasn't recognized by my Xbox and was obviously faked in some way).

Interesting read, thanks!

I can imagine that the mobile market starting off as the predominant platform makes "traditional" handheld gaming a luxury few in China care about, as the last time I visited, my 3ds was described as an expensive rarity, and at the end of the day people will opt to use their phone since it's more convenient and affordable in that context.

people grew up with MMOs...who knows what will happen now?

LaoJim:
Interesting article and useful for me, as a foreigner who has lived in China for the last seven years, to clarify the current and future rules, which I'd always been a bit confused about.

The other thing to consider, at least for young people, is that most Chinese parents won't let their children (and this included anyone upto the age of about 21) buy a console, as video games are evil incarnate. They will get a laptop, especially when they leave for university and failing that they'll go to a internet bar to play their favourite games. Since computers are relatively new there are not a lot of older gamers in China either.

Secondly, since the consoles were illegal, any console you can buy will be already chipped for playing pirate software (and consequently not available for playing on-line). Pirated games are sold for the equivalent of 50 pence (less than a dollar) and having got used to this, the average Chinese consumer is not going to start paying the cost of legitimate software, which is what Microsoft/Sony will need to start getting their investment back on the console.

(As a completely legit gamer this causes huge problems for me, as I can't buy most accessories in China and I can only buy a very limited selection of non-pirate games. I tried to get an upgrade to my 60gb Xbox hard-drive but it wasn't recognized by my Xbox and was obviously faked in some way).

Do/Did you live in a 3rd tier city? I live in Shanghai and have no problem getting want I want on taobao, play-asia or in local stores (admitedly buying from HK is considered an import).

OT (possibly)
I've noticed a trend amongst more well to do gamers here that legit is what they want. The guarantee of your game working together with being permabanned from online has caused a change. I know the majority of people are unable to buy a console, but the actual number of people who are able to buy a console is still greater than the total population of the United States. If you look at the popularity of expensive electronics from the likes of Samsung and Apple here, then consoles may have a chance. The fact Sony have their own stores here is an interesting proposition, I've always found it irritating I couldn't wander in to have a look at a PS section, hopefully that will change, at least in SH!!!

Great article!

I lived in a third-tier city for 3 years and you're right; chipped consoles and pirated games were everywhere. This may be due to an abundance of 'technology markets', or a lack of big franchised department stores. I recently moved to QingDao and have yet to see any grey market gaming stuff. However, Mr C is right. Taobao has pretty much any game or accessory you could hope to find on it, usually for around half the price of first hand games in the west, too. I worry that as Chinese consumers begin to rave legitimacy more, cheap places to buy online will prevent this FTZ ban-lift from having an effect anyway.

Mr C:

Do/Did you live in a 3rd tier city? I live in Shanghai and have no problem getting want I want on taobao, play-asia or in local stores (admitedly buying from HK is considered an import).

I've lived in Baoding and Dalian, both what I'd class as second tier cities. I suppose I could order stuff from the internet, but I find it easier to buy on-mass when I'm back in England (last time I went back with a case of 60 mainly pre-owned games) So how much would you pay for say in imported copy of GTA V.

Mr C:

I've noticed a trend amongst more well to do gamers here that legit is what they want. The guarantee of your game working together with being permabanned from online has caused a change.

Interesting, I'll admit I know very few console gamers in China, and those I do know see no reason to pay for legit stuff. I don't have Xbox Live because there is not a lot of point for me, when I used a one month trial a month ago I couldn't really play on-line properly, I got a few very laggy games of Soul Calibur and Street Fighter, but could really get anything else working. If there is more of a community in Shanghai that's god.

Mr C:

I know the majority of people are unable to buy a console, but the actual number of people who are able to buy a console is still greater than the total population of the United States. If you look at the popularity of expensive electronics from the likes of Samsung and Apple here

That's very true, but I still think consoles are a little different from stuff like iPads, the Chinese are very concerned with face and tablet computers are a status symbol. They are *able* to buy a console, but they might prefer to buy top of the line laptop instead. Anyway it would be nice for me if legitimate consoles do start to take off in China.

Hi Jim,

Dalian is a nice place, I lived across the water in Yantai 10 years ago!

I pay an average of 330RMB if I buy in the shops here. Though I haggled GTA5 down to 305 - the guy had loads and he realised I was walking away :)

When I buy from play-asia most new Asian releases (specific for HK, Singapore and Taiwan) are 50USD, much cheaper than back home in the UK and mostly cheaper than here. They deliver to mainland China by airmail for free, though it is a good 2-3 weeks wait. I've only lost 2 parcels since 2006, just don't order throughout Christmas or Spring Festival. I generally use Fedex these days, it adds around $10, but there's no hassle and it's much faster.

When playing online I have quite a good connection (10MB - great in SH). Lag in COD is horrendous, but I was never much of a fan. Oddly enough BF3 works great. I mostly play cooperative games and have never had issues with them. I put almost 400 hours into Mass Effect 3. I have a mate back in the UK who I regularly chat with whilst we play and another old school mate who now lives in the States and we (with the odd exception) have no trouble getting a few hours gaming in when time zones allow.

Agree with you on the iPad fad, looking good in public whilst living in a shit-hole is all part of the "China Dream".

Have fun!

Robert Rath:
In addition, he's unsure how the internet infrastructure will hold up-especially given the Great Firewall

Well, at least that's not a big problem. After all, a console is just a box plugged into your TV, with no requirement to actually connect to the internet. A few multiplayer-focussed games won't work, but all the single player stuff will be fine. Right?

The FTZ is a ploy to stop other countries accusing China of protective measures. It will in reality, have little to no effect on the market or entry to the Chinese market for companies. I say this having lived in China for the past 7 years.

 

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