Since the year 2000, video game consoles have been banned in China. According to a new report, however, that is about to change. Video game consoles could soon be legal in the world's most populated country.
The South China Morning Post is reporting the Chinese government is expected to reverse its 13-year video game console ban.
While video game console sales are prohibited, that doesn't mean it's been difficult to buy video game consoles in China. Game machines and new titles are openly sold in shops through the grey market. Last year, a Chinese home video game console was released, but was marketed as a home entertainment system and exercise device to sidestep the ban. The system ended up being a massive failure.
There's apparently a catch to ending the console ban: Hardware makers Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft must manufacture their game machines in Shanghai. The government would need, of course, to approve the games and their content, a source told the South China Morning Post.
Chinese government documents apparently say that foreign companies must register in the Shanghai free trade zone and get approval from "culture-related authorities", a source told SCMP. After doing so, the international companies can then sell their products domestically in China.
"The Shanghai free trade zone plan is strongly supported by Premier Li, who wants to improve China’s image as opening further to business under the new leadership (of Premier Li and President Xi Jinping)," another source told SCMP. "You may think the game console is a small deal in the whole policy package for Shanghai, but it’s an interesting instance showing how China wants to open up to foreign investors."
There are problems, however, with the requirement to manufacture in Shanghai. The cost of living is higher than industrial centres like Henan or Shenzhen. It also means might mean that the manufacturing costs are higher in Shanghai or that hardware companies, who have already have manufacturing operations in the country, will need to create two separate production lines: One for China and one for the rest of the world. But with a market as big as China, surely the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo won't mind, will they?
Kotaku will update this post as more information becomes available.
Picture: Eric Jou/Kotaku