Will China Lift Its Console Ban?

The sale of video game consoles has been officially banned in China since the year 2000, but there is news coming out of China that this ban may soon be lifted.

There is no official word by the Chinese government, but China Daily claims to have spoken to a source within the Chinese Ministry of Culture who has allegedly said, “We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market.”

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However, even if the Chinese government is considering to lift the ban it would not be a straight forward process. As a number of Ministries were involved with the initial ban all of them have to agree to lift the ban to allow the official sales of consoles and games.

The major console developers have tried over the years since the ban to have it overturned and open up what would be the world’s largest single potential market in terms of buyers, with over a billion citizens residing within China.

Though the ban has stopped official sales of consoles, except for a brief period in 2004 when Sony released the PS2 there, there have been many third parties who have managed to smuggle consoles into China. In fact it was these events that led to Sony to withdraw the PS2 because of lost revenues.

Microsoft also do sell the Kinect in China, though it is advertised as a research tool and not a gaming peripheral there.

It is likely that China will eventually lift the ban as the country continues its rapid growth and modernisation, though there will likely be conditions that will be imposed regarding the sale of what type of games can be released.

Source: China Daily.

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9 Comments

  1. This article portrays everyday life in China in completely the wrong light. I have lived there for past 6 years and although it is officially illegal to sell consoles over here like so much there are many loop holes and a massive grey market. At the moment the Chinese government is shooting itself in the foot as they do not collect any taxes from the sales yet do nothing to try and monitor or control their sale.

    You can walk into any electronics market and find lots of shops selling consoles and games. Everything is completely legal in Hong Kong and as a result most games I buy are the Hong Kong versions that are imported to the mainland. They are almost always released in English (sometimes with Chinese subtitles but normally not) and up to a few months before their European release. For example I was playing the Uncharted 3 game of the edition 3-4 months before it was released in Europe.

    At the end of the day what the government fears most is the everyday Chinese citizen gaining access to Western views, news and influence and by opening up the games market officially it will encourage hundreds of millions of people to go online and be free to game and chat with Western people about sensitive issues such as Taiwan, Tibet, the Falun Gong and democracy. Monitoring online conversations is pretty much impossible to do on a large scale which is why the government has blocked access to such sites as Facebook and YouTube.

    However the government is not stupid and the new middle class in China are constantly looking for ways to show their wealth but at the moment are content with walking around with their iPads and driving their Audi A6Ls. I don’t believe that even if the government does open up the market their is so much pressure on the youth to succeed that parents will not buy consoles as they are deemed a frivolous waste of time. And the less educated youth can not afford the asking price with the average income only £150 a month who can afford spending £250 on a console.

    This is why Internet cafes are so popular over here for 50p you get a couple of hours access to pcs loaded with the latest pirated games. People are not willing to pay full price for games in the land of piracy and knock offs. If they market opens up over here, the problems for the games company will not just be the government but piracy. I bought s ps3 over here way before the hack because people laughed at you if you said you wanted an unhacked 360. They are simply not on sale and people don’t understand why you would pay £30 for a game when you can get it pirated on sale for 50p.

    Anyway I hope this sheds some light on the situation as I’m sure most people have no idea what everyday life is like in China despite 1/5 of the world living here.

    • Thank you for writing that out. It’s lovely to get some proper insight.

      • You’re welcome Peter. Sorry it’s quite incoherent in places and has more than a few typos! Must. Not. Post. After. Drinking!

    • Thank you for shedding light on the situation.

    • Always interesting to hear from someone actually living there. It doesn’t sound like ms & Sony would get the sales they’d hope for based on what you said about wages & piracy though.

    • Love this comment. Really interesting to get the internal perspective on things. Thanks for posting.

  2. LoL, they can manufacture it, but aren’t to use it. There is irony for you. Peace out, gen. X.

  3. Very interesting read :-)

  4. Goverment controlled &or funded developers?
    *I can’t seeing the powers that be, letting our pretty much uncensored games, western views & satire, let loose on public minds.

    (^* my intial thought, which coincidentally echoes matthangzhou sentiments.)

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