The Chinese government may reverse its ban on video game consoles in the future. Ministerial figures are reportedly discussing lifting the ban, put in place in the year 2000 in order to protect the physical and mental development of younger members of the population, which could open up the Chinese market for gaming products from Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony, and others.
A source from the Ministry of Culture speaking to China Daily 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.” The ban itself was put in place by seven different ministries and so requires approval from all to be lifted.
The ban has caused an illegal games console market to emerge, where retailers located near manufacturing distribution centers would sell-on consoles from Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Rampant piracy in the region supplies most of the games for the illegal consoles, something which gaming companies will have to combat if they enter the market.
Though the sale of items such as the PlayStation 3 and Wii are banned, sales of the Kinect motion sensor are permitted, though it is more for medical treatment and education rather than entertainment. Zhang Yaqin of Microsoft told the report “Kinect’s entry into China does not mean Microsoft’s game console has come to China,” claiming that the company has no timetable for launch as it would require governmental approval.