Ban On Game Consoles Could Be Lifted In China
January 28, 2013

Chinese Government May Lift Their Video Game Console Ban

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Currently, it is illegal to buy or sell a video game console (PlayStation, Wii, Xbox and the like) in China. Of course, just because something is illegal doesn´t keep people from doing what they shouldn´t. According to a new report in China Daily, authorities will begin reviewing a ban against these video games set in place in the year 2000.

Console makers have been trying for years to enter the Chinese market legally, but have had no success. Last November, however, Sony´s PlayStation 3 was given a quality certification from a Chinese safety standards body. According to Reuters, this led many to speculate that the Chinese Ministry of Culture could be lifting the ban which was set in place to protect children against mental and physical harm from these games.

“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," said an unnamed source from the Ministry of Culture speaking with China Daily.

"However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it.”

Yet, while one unnamed official is claiming the deal is at least on the table, another official at the ministry´s cultural market department told Reuters these reports are not true.

"The ministry is not considering lifting the ban," said the source who asked only to be known as Bai, speaking to Reuters.

News of a potential lifting of the ban was exciting enough for some, causing a slight spike in Nintendo and Sony shares. Though a Nintendo spokesperson declined to comment, a Sony spokesperson said their company is mostly staying the course.

"Our stance towards business in China has not changed. Of course, we acknowledge China as a promising market for our business, and we are always considering and preparing business opportunities and possibilities (in the country).”

Some also looked to Microsoft´s “entrance” into the Chinese market as a possible sign that this ban may soon be lifted. Though the actual Xbox console is not sold in China, the accompanying Kinect controller can be purchased there, and according to Microsoft´s chairman of Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group Shang Yaqin, this was only allowed because the device is used for educational and medical purposes.

"Kinect's entry into China does not mean Microsoft's game console has come to China. Currently, we don't have a timetable for our game consoles entering the Chinese market. It needs government's approval," said Zhang, speaking to China Daily.

Video game consoles may have been banned in China, but this hasn´t stopped the Chinese people from finding a way to play video games in general.

Mobile gaming, for instance, is very popular amongst those in China, as is desktop gaming at home or Internet cafes. The China Times also spoke with the owner of a video game store which has been around for 12 years who said that even though these consoles have been banned, he has sold as many as 10 a day when the Wii and PlayStation 3 were released.

"There were wholesale dealers transferring PlayStation consoles from Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. All you had to do was find them and resell their products,” said Lio Shuo, owner of a video game store in Beijing.

Both Sony and Microsoft have been rumored to be releasing follow ups to their popular consoles the PlayStation and Xbox later this year.