China Considers Lifting Video Game Console Ban
China's locked-up gaming market might be opening up soon, as the country's Ministry of Culture is considering removing the ban on video games that it implemented more than a decade ago.
Back in the year 2000, China banned the sale of video games within its borders due to fear over the possible negative impact that games might have on the physical and mental development of children. Video games, of course, were still played in China, but the ban halted the legal sale of game systems by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft.
According to the China Daily's anonymous source, that ban is possibly on its way out the door.
"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 the site's source. However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it."
Speaking to Reuters, though, an official Ministry statement declared the report as untrue.
"The ministry is not considering lifting the ban," said an official identifying himself only as Bai.
The mere thought of game makers like Sony and Nintendo breaking into the Chinese market was enough to launch the price of their respective stocks skyward by 8 percent and 3.5 percent. Nintendo chose not to comment on the matter, but that was plenty of activity to ensure a quotefrom Sony, who was understandably muted in its reaction.
"Our stance towards business in China has not changed," said Sony spokeswoman Yoshiko Uchiyama. "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)."
To say the Chinese market represents enormous growth potential for video game companies is a massive understatement. PC and mobile games are already massively popular, but these types of games do have to follow strict government regulations or they risk being banned themselves. It's unclear whether or not traditional console makers would have to comply with these rules.
Back in November, China hinted at a softer policy towards gaming when it approved Sony's PlayStation 3 console, saying it passed all the required safety inspections.
Prior to that, Microsoft was able to release the Kinect in 2012, though it was primarily used for medical purposes and not game playing.
"Kinect's entry into China does not mean Microsoft's gameconsole has come to China," said Zhang Yaqin, chairman of Microsoft Corp's Asia Pacific Research and Development Group. Currently, we don't have a timetablefor our game consoles entering the Chinese market. It needs government's approval."