China Lifts Ban on Sale and Production of Consoles

China Lifts Ban on Sale and Production of Consoles

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A 14-year-old ban on the sale of foreign game consoles in China has been suspended... for now.

Chinese government officials have lifted a 14-year-old ban on the sale and production of foreign videogame consoles, opening up the Chinese market to Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.

Companies will be able to make consoles in Shangai's free trade zone and sell them in China pending government approval, the State Council, the highest executive body in the Chinese government, said in a statement. The ban was first implemented in 2000 as government ministries feared videogames had a negative impact on the youth. As a result, PC and smartphone gaming has grown in popularity in the country. One year ago, Chinese authorities indicated they were interested in ending the ban, but all seven ministries had to agree on the ban's suspension before it took effect. Of course, consoles have still been available in China, although unofficially.

Before consoles go on sale in the country, the Ministry of Culture reserves the right to review every product before sale. Few details are available, but the Chinese government will be able to be restrictive toward consoles if it deems it necessary. China is opening more to the market even if government officials have concerns about games' content.

However, the lifted ban may not be permanent. The suspension of the ban is said to be "temporary." The State Council in China has not clarified what this means, but if the government believes videogames are "culturally aggressive," games are likely to be censored and the sale and production of foreign consoles will come to a halt again. The Chinese state media accused Battlefield 4 of just this for "demonizing the image of China." For now, this is a great time for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to promote their systems in China.

Source: Reuters

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The biggest piece of news for me is that China had a lacking console market. I had no idea there was a ban on consoles.

Micalas:
The biggest piece of news for me is that China had a lacking console market. I had no idea there was a ban on consoles.

Good. Glad I'm not the only one who went, "Wait, really? Since when?"

I can't wrap my head around this. China's huge. I feel I should have known about a console ban there. I guess the ban must not be too effective, otherwise I'm certain Chinese gamers would have been foaming at the mouth long ago.

So can we all look forward to the sanitization of video games to allow them to appease the Chinese Govt and be sold in the HUGE new market, just like with movies (see Red Dawn) trying to cater to the huge Chinese audience?

tangoprime:
So can we all look forward to the sanitization of video games to allow them to appease the Chinese Govt and be sold in the HUGE new market, just like with movies (see Red Dawn) trying to cater to the huge Chinese audience?

Possibly.

The PC dominates the gaming market and it will be an uphill battle for consoles to get a foothold unlike movies, where there is a huge pre-established consumer group.

tangoprime:
So can we all look forward to the sanitization of video games to allow them to appease the Chinese Govt and be sold in the HUGE new market, just like with movies (see Red Dawn) trying to cater to the huge Chinese audience?

To be fair this has been happening already in some extent. Homefront was originally going to have china as the main villains. But fear that china would retaliate against the publisher (like with the recent battlefield 4 ban) forced a change to the nonsensical North Korea takes over the world plot.

And to be fair I'm pretty sure you can sell Halo to china just as it is.

So when the reinstate the ban, are they going to go through every house and confiscate every system they find. Or does every system need to be registered like a weapon and returned when asked unless the owner wants to go on a forced visit to the Great Economic People's Work Camps. This is China were talking about. The only worse case scenario would be in North Korea were they say they lifted their (hypothetical) ban nationwide and invite reporters to a town were everyone is forced to look like they're enjoying games while the rest of the country would be shot if even seen near a PS3.

I doubt any of the big names in consoles really want to jump on this "opportunity" or, at least, not right away.

Why spend money exporting your console to China only to eventually have one of your shipments of consoles 'confiscated' during yet another crackdown on gaming?

While this is nice for China, it's really not going to be a "big boom" for consoles manufacturers since China is pretty much big on PC gaming.

Neronium:
While this is nice for China, it's really not going to be a "big boom" for consoles manufacturers since China is pretty much big on PC gaming.

You have it the other way round mate. It won't be a huge difference to China since people are already gaming there. It's just another way to play games. But it will be the biggest boom for N, M and S that they could possibly have. A previously closed market of 1 billion people just opened up to them and there are a lot of gamers over there.

China (along with India) are the worlds super-economies now, Europe and the US are still ailing since 2008 so the big three have just been given leave to sell their stuff to a massive potential market. Last gen hardware is significantly cheaper than a mid-range gaming PC so I would imagine they'll be very popular indeed, though the chances of a boxed game selling for remotely close to $40 is absurd. They'll be cheap, or they'll be pirated. The economy is still very different there (in perspective, Windows 8 costs 99.99 in the UK and $49.99 USD in China, about a third of the price). I expect a lot of titles will be banned outright, if not censored.

It shouldn't go unnoticed that the ban was for imports only, you'll find Famiclones and knock off MD's all over China.

Chaosritter:
It shouldn't go unnoticed that the ban was for imports only, you'll find Famiclones and knock off MD's all over China.

Or the Chintendo Vii.[Sarcasm] I heard that was a good one.[/Sarcasm] Yeah, no wonder PC games are popular there.

Oh, I'd love to hear what's going on behind the doors of the Ministry of Culture.
I can't imagine many big console games making it past censorship.

And for that reason, I don't really see how this is going to take off for the Big Three right away.
It doesn't matter how many customers you have; games move consoles. Censor too many games, and consoles won't move much at all.

I personally don't think we will see a really big console surge in China until everyone is able to see a bit more eye to eye on various subjects.

 

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