China Set to Reverse Ban on Console Sales

China continues to stumble towards modernity, this time through the power of video games
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The South China Morning Post reported today that China is in the process of lifting a 13 year ban on the manufacture and sale of consoles. The news comes as Chinese leadership, under the direction of freshly elevated President Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang, strives to further open the Chinese marketplace to foreign trade and increase the use of Chinese currency.

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The conditions

The announcement comes with a major caveat, however: consoles and software sold in China would have to be produced inside the Shanghai free-trade zone, one of the first and largest free-trade zones in the country. This means that Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo would have to negotatiate with the Chinese government and set up manufacturing and distribution centers specifically to cater to China. While this would involve a fairly significant investment of capital, it’s one easily offset by the potential for access to a market of more than 1.3 billion people.

While lifting the ban is an important first step, consoles and games will still need approval from China’s ministry of culture and other governmental bodies before they can be made and marketed inside the Communist nation. However, a thriving black market for games and hardware already exists, so a library of titles will be immediately available for consoles bought through legitimate channels.

First, a trickle…

The move is just one among a package of similar new policy adjustments that signals a readiness to engage more fully with foreign markets and initiate a more robust dialogue with foreign cultures. It also has the added advantage of bringing more high-tech manufacturing to China’s mainland, and opening up the world’s largest untapped market to console manufacturers and software publishers.

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Alan Bradley
Getting played by video games since the '80s. Host of the Pictures Changing Podcast ( and notorious raconteur.