Consoles in china

Despite the thriving grey market that has existed since the ban was put in place 14 years ago, both gamers in China and console manufacturers outside the country will no doubt be excited to learn that China’s State Council yesterday lifted restrictions on the importation and sale of foreign video games consoles, albeit on a “temporary” basis. That’s right: China may soon became a legitimate market for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft once again.

Rather like how parents were once convinced that their children would become Satan worshippers if they listened to The Beatles’ records, China put a stop to the importing and sale of video games consoles back in 2000, pointing to their potentially mind-warping properties. Of course, what the Chinese government seemed to be ignoring was the fact that PC gaming also exists and thrives in the country, and that, as popular culture has taught us, hardcore fans of MMORPGs will spend whole days at a time clicking, levelling up and calling their mother when they need to go to the toilet (what’s up, South Park fans!).

As a result of the ban 14 years ago, console manufacturers were unable to legitimately manufacture or sell their hardware in China, though many gamers still found a way to get hold of them. If the ban were to be removed permanently, however, we could see these companies pouring hardware into the country and capitalising on the “new” market – estimated to be worth some US$13bn in 2013 – that was off-limits to them up until now.

Following the change, consoles may now be produced within Shanghai’s Free Trade Zone and distributed throughout the rest of the country, something that analysts suggest may end up benefitting Microsoft more than its competitors on account of it outsourcing 100 percent of its hardware production rather than owning dedicated factories.

Whether China decides to play fair and let consoles back into the country on a more permanent basis or not, we’re sure there are plenty of excited gamers out there excited to be able to stroll into a local store and buy a genuine, over-the-counter games console for the first time in over a decade.

Source: Reuters, BBC News
Image: RocketNews24